Twice a year, our middle school parent-teacher association (PTA) hosts seminars to educate parents on student related issues. In October, we brought in several police officers to talk about drugs. In February, we decided to cover Stress and Anxiety in Adolescence.
We lined up one of our counselors and the school district police sergeant who oversees our cluster of schools to do the lunch time presentation. Then the day before our seminar, a student at a nearby high school committed suicide on school property. Both the counselor and police officer were called away the next day to help the students deal with the tragedy.
Luckily, our principal and another counselor pulled together information and put on the presentation – doing an excellent job on such short notice.
Students today are under stress – even our middle schoolers are already thinking about grades and college. I know when I was their age, neither of those were on my mind. And now they have state-mandated testing that dictates if they advance to the next grade.
With social media, there is more pressure on students and as it shows with the suicide at the high school, more chances for bullying. Today there is stress from parents, peers, and teachers. It isn’t the world my husband and I grew up in.
As always, when I hear a lecture, I apply it to my life or my kids’ situations. I’d say Lexie has more anxiety with peer opinion. With Jase it is the stress of grades and those pesky state tests.
They started talking about recognizing anxiety and what it feels like for people who experience chronic anxiety. And they talked about how they looked for students in distress.
One thing the counselor spoke about that I thought was interesting was ANTs or Automatic Negative Thoughts. These ANTs creep into the thoughts of teens (and adults) all the time. You think you aren’t good enough, can’t pass the test, won’t win the game, the other students are talking or laughing about you, and the list can go on and on. It is easy for negative thoughts to sneak into our minds.
But that is all they are – thoughts. They are not facts. But the pre-teens and teens of the school of course can’t always see that. The counselors work with student to evaluate the validity of these thoughts and change them. Because challenging negative thoughts takes away their power and gives you the control over your thoughts, moods and behaviors.
I can see how this can definitely help my kids and heck, even me. When the counselors decided to set up a Wellness Week and asked PTA for help, I suggested ANTs was one of the things they discussed with the students. That week is next week so we will see how that goes. The purpose of Wellness week is to focus on stress so they will also go over exercising, journaling and sensory activities that can reduce stress.