Today I’m sharing an exclusive post from Michele Kambolis, author of Generation Stressed. I absolutely LOVE this piece because it eloquently addresses something that has been bothering me for a while. I have always believed that summer is a time to be a kid, have fun, explore and relax. Yet more and more, it seems like parents are robbing kids of the summers we had as children. We’re over-scheduling them, sending them to summer school, printing our workbooks that are longer than War & Peace and basically just taking away the care-free fun of summer. In our efforts to avoid “summer slide” and other buzzwords du jour, are we creating a generation of totally stressed out kids?
By Michele Kambolis, author of Generation Stressed
Intuitively, we know that summer shouldn’t really be about jam-packed schedules, extra tutoring and high-end sports camps designed to help kids make the rep or gold star teams.While all kinds of parents have boycotted the pressure to keep up with a cultural agenda of status, cut-throat competition and the achieve at all cost mentality, others look back on summer wondering just where things went wrong. As the summer months wind down and we begin making plans for the school year, it’s worth asking whether our child is being given the right to their childhood, filled with curiosity, connection and play, or whether adulthood pressures are crowding out their youth.
So, what has happened to our children’s natural language of play, where toys and games are their emotional palette? Children naturally need and want to engage through movement, fantasy and games, making play their greatest tool for growth and connection. Without play, children are robbed of the ability to process, explore and make sense of a difficult and confusing world, and to express their experiences within it. Simply put, a child without play is a child who cannot thrive.
Yet, many children are checked out, more easily bored than ever, unable to fill the time between their periods of busy-ness. Today, when most children enter my counselling room, they seem disoriented and unsure of what to do with the toys, puppets and endless art supplies. It isn’t long before they ask, “Do you have computer games here?” They seem less curious; instead, they’re waiting to be told what comes next. Their wide-eyed wonder has been replaced by the vacant stare of screen time.
If children could fully articulate their feelings, they’d say they are too pressured, overwhelmed and desperately need more of us. Our children are calling on us to show up – leading the way towards expansiveness and deep connection. It’s time for a radical shift away from our hurried, worried, screen-filled life. And with a commitment to re-engage our children with wonder and expansiveness, where there is endless time to play, we ourselves will naturally invite the kind of growth and joy we deeply want for them. When parents ask what activities your child is signed up for this fall, you may just tell them, “We’ve signed up for a balanced life.”
Michele Kambolis (MA) is a registered Child and Family Therapist and Parent Educator dedicated to raising awareness about mental health issues. She is currently pursuing her PhD program in Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University. Her book and webinar, Generation Stressed, has received widespread praise from therapists, families and media alike. Kambolis writes a popular weekly parenting advice column, Parent Traps, for The Vancouver Sun.
Oh yes. I think many kids are stressed out for busy schedules. Want to read this!
This past school year our schedules were so jam packed that this summer I scheduled no activities. My kids desperately needed some downtime. This momma did as well
This is a good article. I think parents are starting to realize that it is easy to get caught in overscheduling, and not as easy to put on the brakes and change the habit of too much screen time. Hard b/c everyone is doing it and you and the kids have to swim upstream to change. But the change is good, balance is the key. When a very demanding schedule is instrinsic to an individual child, they will thrive, but many kids are pushed way beyond what their inner clock would have them to be and do, and it causes the general anxiety and boredoms and confusion or sometimes symptoms not so obvious to the untrained eye.
That looks like a great book. Kids are doing so much now that I can see how they can be stressed.
We are always on the go, so I am sure my kids are stressed. If not, they see how stressed I am about it.
This hits close to home for me. I don’t allow my son to play video games/computer games during school days only on weekend but even then he would choose the games over going outside and play. I am sure he is also stressed with how much pressure he is on. Great article!
I would absolutely love to read this book. As a teacher I see so many stressed kids, and since I know work from home, I’m afraid my boys are feeling the stress that I exude. I need some tips on how to ground all of us–ASAP.
This is a really interesting perspective on the stress factors children face. I can definitely see how the changing world has an impact on them.
My grandchildren are raised in as stress-free of an environment as they can be but life is still rough at times. This is a great article to spread awareness, thank you for sharing! 🙂
Thanks for posting about this. Stress is not limited to adults. It can be manifested in young children and in pets as well. Definitely a good read. Will be sharing this.
I don’t get why parents today think that kids need to be kept busy every minute of every day–try sending them outside to make friends with the neighborhood kids and learn to really use their imaginations and play. I get it that it is just not as safe these days–but kids need time with kids and away from their parents!
It is true that kids nowadays are being exposed to stress more than kids our time! I’m glad you have posted about this.
I think this is one of the consequences brought by our fast paced lifestyle. Kids are at a period wherein they are still getting the hang of things, not like us.
I definitely think the kids of this generation are a lot more stressed. Not only that, but I think they deal with a lot more mental health problems as well.
We weren’t kept busy every minute of every day and we turned out fine. I think. 🙂