A recent article in USA today shows that teenagers in America are stressed. You may ask, "So what else is new?" Teenagers have always been stressed. They wake up and have to get to school. At school, they have to pay attention, do the work, meet deadlines, it's all a part of growing up and figuring out how to navigate life, right?
It may be the case the teenage years have always been stressful, but according to Michael Bradley, a psychologist in Feasterville, Pa., who specializes in teens...
"I'm not sure it would be the clinical definition of stress. I think they get stressed because somebody puts a demand on them and they don't want to do it," he says. "However, on their behalf, I will fall back on the fact that hard numbers tell us kids are more anxious and depressed than they've ever been."
We know stress is a driving force in anxiety causing people to fear, change behavior, and contributes to some of the most dangerous behavior mechanism for students to figure out how to cope with their stress.
According to the article there are several indicators that show teenagers are reaching out for relief, and the most dramatic evidence is the rate of attempted suicide. The article sites, "According to a study about depression published in 2012 in the journal Clinical Psychological Science, found that rates of suicide attempts were significantly higher in adolescents ages 13-17 than in emerging adults (ages 18-23) or adults (24-30)."
So what do we do?
Kristen Race, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., author of the book Mindful Parenting, out in January, says teens are generally honest about responding to confidential surveys. She confirms that teens aren't simply using stress as a 'pass card' but they're actually being pressured from all sides of life.
In addition, Race comments, "If you look at teen suicide statistics, stress is one of the things that leads to suicide attempts," she says. "It's incredibly important to have the downtime, and it makes sense to have a dramatic shift in the summer. They sleep more in the summer, and that's going to enormously increase their ability to think positively. "
I've been advocating this idea of a total break from the norm during the summer months. Teenagers need to sleep, they need to experience a different rhythm of life, and ultimately they need places where they can experience joy. It's the way it used to be. Summer was a time for refreshing and renewal.
Again, I'm going to plug our summer camp in Colorado, CAMP KIVU.
Our staff here have a culmination of over 100 years of experience in helping students take a break from life. They have the chance to raft, hike, bike, fish, or just simply sit and enjoy the company of like minded teens from around the world.
We specialize in giving kids a different speed of life, and we intentionally help kids be kids.
As a culture, we should be VERY CONCERNED how our teenagers are learning to deal with stress, because the habits they develop today will carry over to adulthood. A well intentioned break in the mountains of Colorado may be just what the doctor ordered.