Why Are Schools Teaching Students Stress Reducers?

(Special Note to Parents: It’s Time to Step Up to the Plate!)

Picture a high school gym where dozens of students lay on foam mats taking deep relaxing breaths to the cadence of their teacher’s voice. The class is Yoga 101 and it is the hot subject being taught from preschool to high school.

Educators are becoming increasingly concerned about how high stress levels affect students' emotional health and their ability to concentrate. They say students today are the most achievement-oriented batch yet. "Generation Stress" (as they’ve been nicknamed) is full of students that strive to be perfect, internalize everything, and don't know how to reduce their stress loads. To address these concerns, educators are offering stress reducers, such as yoga class, to help their students learn coping strategies.

But why are schools taking on the responsibility of teaching stress-reducers? Isn’t that the parents' job? Educators heartily concur, but are also quick to add a sad truth: Too many parents fail to recognize how just overwhelmed their children are.

Find out if your child is stressed.

A recent AP/MTV survey found 85 percent of teens say they feel stressed; 35 percent feel it in high dosages on a daily level. Girls (45 percent) seem to be even more stressed-out than the boys (33 percent). A Kids in Crisis Survey found that 85 percent of our kids worry about grades; 83 percent feel overwhelmed by homework. And stress is showing up in kids as young as three years of age. Enough!

I applaud educators for their efforts, but I also think it high time for parents to wake up and smell the roses. All is not well with our children's emotional health and well-being. They are smart, but they are troubled and sad. The research confirms it, and the stats get more troubling each year.

So please: watch your children a bit closer. Take their concerns seriously. Look closer at their schedules to ensure "downtime" is included. Do what you can to reduce some of that load, but also teach your children to cope with stress in a healthy way. I’m convinced that it's one of the skills our kids will need most to survive and thrive in today's pressure-cooker world. I'm also willing to bet a lot of teachers will applaud your efforts when you do, and your kids will thank you as well.

Not sure where to start? Use these signs to determine if your child is stressed.


Dr. Michele Borba is the author of No More Misbehavin': 38 Difficult Behaviors and How to Stop Them.

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