What pressure can do to our kids…

This blog is on the unnecessary pressure some parents put on their children to achieve. I have seen more aggression /competitiveness among mothers in recent years. It is good to have successful children but not if what is documented in the papers is true. Is academic success worth this? I am an academic tutor and I would certainly say no! Absolutely not! Here is what the papers are saying is happening in private schools today:

Britain’s top private schools have said that they are facing an outbreak of self-harm, depression and also eating disorders. This is happening amongst high flying pupils weighted down by exam pressures, family breakdown and also social media.

‘Early warning’ tests for children as young as eight are being used to try and help troubled children. More than 85% of the schools were concerned about the amount of depression among their pupils – this shows an 85% increase on the proportion 5 years ago.  42% said it was a significant concern, compared to only 12% in 2010.

There was a 57% increase in schools reporting self-harm as a problem and a 65% jump in the number worried by the amount of pupils with eating disorders. In contrast the levels of teenage drinking, underage sex, smoking and drug use have dropped compared to five years ago. This shows that teenage rebellion has been replaced by a surge in mental instability.

Nearly all the 65 leading schools also admitted they were grappling with how to stop the excessive and most often abusive use of social media. There are now also unprecedented levels of concern among teachers over pupils disclosing online threats, depression self harm and eating disorders an HMC spokesman reported. Nearly all of the schools that have been surveyed say they have set up classes for parents, teaching them to help their children cope. Chris Jeffrey, head of The Grange School in Cheshire and chairman of HMC’s wellbeing committee said the pressures of achieving top grades are affecting youngsters in all schools not only private ones.

This is the first time the schools, some of which charge over £35,000 a year for boarding, have admitted how serious the problems are. Until recently many have actually denied that students are suffering although serious stories have made the headlines.

Schools are making a concentrated effort to detect and treat problems they see. Private schools are keen to work with state schools, facing similar problems but dealing with less resources, a step in the right direction. Most schools have hired councillors to provide therapy; additional links to psychologists have been established, with 94% of schools running parental classes for issues which are of concern.

Schools that have increased their pastoral care in recent years include Beneden, the girls boarding school in Kent, where Princess Anne was a pupil. The school has a full time psychologist.

Although social media does receive its fair share of bad press, it can also be used to promote good messages! An example of such a story is Robert Eyre’s experience! He is keen to ensure kids know it is ok not to be ok! His story started at the Royal Grammar School, where he was diagnosed with clinical depression at 17 and in the middle of his A levels. The school nurse had a big role to play in persuading Robert to seek medical help, which eventually allowed him to return to school and pass his Alevels with A/A*. He is now a proud UCL student proving his potential.

My son is the jewel in my crown – I wouldn’t care what he did as long as he is happy and healthy. That is mentally and physically of course.  I want him to be able to provide for himself. I am sure all children find their path, ending up where they are meant to, regardless of how much pressure we put on them. Pressure is good when it is due and when it can be seen to motivate, but don’t over do it… remember they are children at the end of the day!  I’m sure you’ll all agree, when they really want something they find ways to get it, don’t worry !!

Let me know what you think!

Until next time,