One of the most alarming things I have learned since the Coronavirus pandemic and, all the stuff that has come along with it, is the alarming number of young people who are suffering from all kinds of mental health issues. Depression, anxiety, learning disorders, fear of failure and many other maladies are running wild among our young people.
Why are there so many unhappy kids? Well, as usual the discussion is complicated but several studies have addressed the things that are contributing to the rash of kids who are really struggling.
Here is the list of reasons why:
- Electronics are an unhealthy alternative. Too many kids retreat into their devices to play games or watch videos rather than dealing with whatever is making them uncomfortable.
- Don’t worry, be happy! Kids are living in a world where we are led to believe that everyone should be happy around the clock and that something is really wrong when they aren’t. This creates all kinds of turmoil and doubt.
- Parents are praising unrealistic things. Saying that your kid is the “best” doesn’t put their mind at ease it puts additional pressure on them. Rather than gaining confidence they often fear failure.
- Parents expect greatness from their kids. Many parents are more like life coaches, getting their kids all the best tutors, trainers, SAT/ACT prep programs, and whatever else they can to help their kids get ahead. Parents make it their job to ensure their kids can get into the best schools or on the best teams, whether their kids want it or not.
- Kids don’t learn emotional skills. We spend so much time working on the nuts and bolts of excellence that we often leave out the coping skills and emotional skills kids need to survive the real world. Without coping skills, kids are always anxious about everyday life.
- Parents as protectors. We have seen the school of hard knocks disappear and be replaced by the school of protecting my kid from any challenges, heartache and difficulty. Parents want to protect their kids from any failure which then sets kids up for the realization that they don’t know how to handle adversity.
- Parents don’t know how to prepare their kids for challenges. Trying something, failing and trying again is a normal way to learn life skills. When parents protect their kids, they stunt these skills. But if we throw the kids in the deep end of the pool without any practice, we will see very stressed out kids.
- Parenting out of fear. Parents don’t want to face their own fears or anxiety so they protect their kids from any challenge because they are more worried about their own feelings than those of their kids.
- Kids need more free time. Too much stuff! Kids don’t have time to just be kids. They spend too much time in organized sports, organized programs and structured events. They need some time to just be a kid.
- Kids shouldn’t be in charge. Kids want everyone to think they believe they know more than their parents. But deep down, they really know they don’t. When parents decide to friend rather than parent, it creates a great deal of anxiety of their kids.
Any of these things can contribute to an unhappy kid. Some of the things on this list are directly related to the experiences kids and parents have in the world of competitive sports.
Softball should be fun. If it isn’t, please check the above list!