My daughter, a first grader, gets so worked up about her homework that I’ve had to contact her teacher at night on more than one occasion to talk her off the ledge when we were missing a worksheet or proper instructions. I’m not really sure where all of this anxiety is coming from, because her teacher is quite possibly the nicest, most laid-back person on the planet. And I certainly don’t put any pressure on her. In fact, I find myself frequently saying, “Relax. It’s first grade! Your teacher won’t mind a little unfinished homework.”
Up until recently I was merely baffled and a little amused that I had a budding nerd on my hands, but then I learned that kids who are stressed become depressed adults, and now I’m leaning more toward worried.
Great, another thing to keep me up at night.
According to Mark Ellenbogen, a Canadian professor researching developmental psychopathology, “What is especially alarming is that depression in young people is increasing in successive generations. People are suffering from depression earlier in life and more people are getting it.”
Ellenbogen and his team are zeroing in on cortisol, the stress hormone, and how much of it is found in the spit of kids living in stressful circumstances (namely, kids with one parent who suffers from clinical depression or bi-polar disorder). Turns out, the increased levels of cortisol are there. E-gads!
It’s no wonder that our kids are more stressed out these days. I mean, the fact that a first grader even has homework says a lot. With all of our after-school activities, it’s a job to even find time for the homework. My kid worries about everything, from her inability to draw well to global warming to the amount of sugar that might be attacking her teeth at any given time. I know that at 6 years old, the last thing on my mind was the health of my teeth.
If we’re not careful with the anxieties we're dishing out to our kids, I am afraid we are going to end up with a generation of depressed neurotics.
Is your child stressed out, too? Are you worried?
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