Helping our Kids Manage Stress and Overscheduling

How do we define success? Most parents answer this question very differently than their children.

Research indicates that parents will define success for their children as being happy and healthy, having strong family and friend connections, finding careers that are fulfilling and seeking opportunities to give back. Ask their kids this same question, and more often than not they’ll say good grades, being accepted to their university of choice and making lots of money. The source of this disconnect was the topic of a parent education workshop led by Dr. Denise Pope at Crescent School on April 6, 2019.

“Today’s high-pressure, fast-paced culture is interfering with healthy child development,” says Dr. Pope, the co-founder of Challenge Success and a senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. “Students are over-worked, over-programmed and under stress. The resulting health tolls are sleep deprivation, lack of resilience, anxiety and depression, bullying, drug and alcohol abuse and other mental health disorders.”

Challenge Success has worked with over 150 schools and surveyed over 140,000 students. Its research supports this fact: when parents are too focused on test scores, rote answers and grades, they are denying their kids the time and energy kids need to develop important skills for success like the ability to be independent, adaptable, ethical, motivated and critical thinkers.

Dr. Pope offered several practical strategies that parents can use with their children in Grades 7 to 12 to promote health and wellbeing. The principles of “PDF” – Playtime, Downtime and Family Time – are things that she says are essential every day for healthy adolescent development. She highlighted many of the initiatives that Crescent has undertaken with Challenge Success to increase student engagement and learning. This work includes assessing student schedules, encouraging project and problem-based learning, more authentic assessments, creating a climate of care and belonging, and educating schools on student wellbeing.

Dr. Pope said that parents and schools must work in partnership to promote a broad definition of success. “There are a multitude of post-secondary options for our kids,” said Dr. Pope. “What is most important is that we allow our kids to choose the place that is the best fit for them, and for parents to be open to the choices our kids make.”

Resources from Dr. Pope:

Learn about Crescent's Health & Wellbeing program
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