There was a time when fatigue and burnout were problems reserved for high-powered executives, doctors, and other professionals who worked more than they slept. Today, however, the race to get the best grades and participation in the right extracurricular activities bring burnout problems into teenage classrooms. Today's kids are all trying to outdo one another. Parents who want the best future for their children are unintentionally pushing them harder than ever before, which had led to rising numbers of teenagers experiencing the symptoms of school fatigue.
High School Workload More Demanding Than Ever
The teens who are in high school today were toddlers during the years when parents began pushing educational programs at younger and younger ages. While Doogie Houser practiced medicine as a teenager on television, parents everywhere did what they could to set up their kids for the fast track toward the best schools and degrees. High school college prep programs have become more regimented than most high-stress careers. Students hire tutors to keep up, even if they already make reasonable grades. With all of the focus on keeping busy and constantly working toward a B+ instead of a B-, there is no wonder kids are starting to feel the strain.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is Real
A recent study in the Netherlands reports that one in every 100,000 teenagers is diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) every year. That may not be a large percentage of teens overall, but it does prove that the syndrome is real and there are students who suffer from diagnosable symptoms. CFS causes memory problems, sleep deprivation, and muscle aches. Doctors haven't discovered the cause of CFS, but constant exposure to high stress situations could be one of the culprits. Teens who suffer from CFS tend to miss a substantial amount of school regularly, which leads to problems in and out of the classroom.
Recognizing Symptoms of Burnout
Any child that faces week after week of going from one activity to the next while trying to juggle homework and friends could develop the symptoms of burnout. As a parent, you should watch for signs of resignation in your teenager's attitude. Your child may become depressed and uninterested in things that used to interest him. Burnout can lead to teenagers choosing to sleep through the day rather than get up and join the family. On the other hand, burnout might cause insomnia so that the student never gets enough sleep. Watch for mood swings and attitude changes that might indicate a problem.
Simple ways to Fight the Fatigue
The good news is that there are easy ways to help teens overcome fatigue problems. The most effective solution is to cut out some of the pressure of getting into the best Universities. Many experts are beginning to recommend a gap year filled with instructional student travel before the teen begins college. Planning a gap year relieves some of the pressure during high school, and it helps prepare students for leaving home when they begin college.