Kids Experience High Stress Levels Too
> 7/24/2006 2:34:23 PM

Every parent wants to raise a productive, socially engaged and well-rounded child. But how much responsibility is too much, and when should parents relax the strict scheduling of their children's lives? A poll of  900 boys and girls aged nine to thirteen, published by, indicates that children may be considerably more stressed than parents would like to believe, and most of them pine for more free time. Four of ten kids polled described themselves as stressed most or all of the time, mostly due to overly demanding schedules. More than three quarters believed that added leisure time would help counteract the daily stresses resulting from school, social situations, and outside activities. They listed homework, family issues and peer pressure as their biggest sources of stress, and though many kids said they simply go out to play when they want to get away from these feelings, a disturbing number also reported blaming or harming themselves.

The most obvious solution to this problem would seem to be giving the children what they want: more unstructured time througout the week. Understandably, some parents worry about their children spending this time on activities, like watching TV and playing video games, which supposedly do not enrich them or encourage their creativity. The fact that 42% of those polled reported spending more than three hours a day on TV, games, and computers, and that those kids were more likely to want more free time, tends to reinforce this idea. Parents are right to seek moderation in many of their kids' habits and to offer them many opportunities for extracurricular activity. Still, experts consistently advise parents whose child is having trouble completing assignments, rushing through others, or complaining excessively about these responsibilities to think about rescheduling and allowing for more down time. Noticing these symptoms and talking to a kid about their feelings is sometimes the most important element in the larger equation. Dismissing a child's stresses can be counterproductive, and despite the excellent lives parents want for  their children, they may need to focus on a more realistic set of expectations. 

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