By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
Did you know that there is a topic that comes up with every teen, and some pre-teens, that I work with? One topic, with nearly every client in this age range. You might be tempted to think that I am referring to sex or friendships or how much they hate their parents. Nope, that’s not even close. College admissions comes up across the board with every single kid I work with. Not just the super high performing ones but even the ones who are clawing their way, or napping their way through high school.
I find it fascinating that not only does every kid talk about this, but most of them feel some level of pressure to get into an Ivy League or very competitive school. This is even with kids who would not necessarily even enjoy that level of education as well as those whose parents have told me in no uncertain terms that they absolutely have not put this pressure on their kids (and I truly believe them!). I have come to the conclusion that the pressure of college admissions is essentially in the air we breathe. Any kid attending school is hearing very early on about how to strategize their admissions for college to optimize success. I have kids who are playing sports they hate, completely overscheduled, not sleeping to take more advanced classes, and are so stressed out and exhausted by graduation that I can’t help but wonder, what are we doing? I wonder this particularly when talking to my colleagues who work in college counseling centers and who are telling me that the students they see are more stressed out, burned out, suicidal, and prone to crises than ever before. I repeat, what are we doing??
While I recognize that this is a totally systemic issue in our country that is not actually led by or driven by MOST parents, I believe that we really need to take stock of what is happening and consciously choose how we respond. We need to really sit with the idea that our teens fundamentally believe that their entire life and future is determined by their high school choices and the college they attend. I believe that we live in a world of dualities. Yes, our choices even in high school are important. No, they do not have to define our world, future, and identity. Yes, we should strive for high achievement. No, our worth does not depend on our achievements. We live in a world where teens are struggling. The pressure they are facing is daunting and leading to increasing rates of anxiety and depression as well as suicide.
Every teen that I work with needs to hear the following things from their parents as well as their teachers and anyone else involved in their education, development, and daily life.
If these are not the messages your teen is receiving from you, I invite you to consider how you might communicate these things to them - or call us at Thrive so we can help you and your teen. As the person who listens to teens daily, please believe me that this is important and that they want more reassurance from you than they will ever let on.
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.
As always, thanks for reading and comments are always welcome regarding any issues around child or teen psychotherapy services in San Diego by Thrive Therapy Studio.
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"Watch your thoughts,
They become words.
Watch your words,
They become actions.
Watch your actions,
They become habits.
Watch your habits,
They become character;
It becomes your destiny."