How High Achieving Kids Can Sometimes Be More Prone to Burn-Out

If your child is extremely active and high-functioning, you may want to be mindful in checking in with them to make sure that they are not experiencing burn-out.

As adults, it is easy to realize (most of the time) when we are burnout. But, have you ever tried to recognize the symptoms of burnout in your children? Although it may seem uncommon, high-functioning children are prone to burnout, just like adults can be. So, what can you do to prevent this, and what are the identifiers? 

Girl with blonde hair laying on a bed

Everyone can be affected by burnout, including children. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

What is burnout?

Burnout is a specific type of exhaustion caused by excessive activity and over-work. This is most common in “workaholic” adults, but is actively becoming more common in high school and college students as well. In a society made from grind culture, overworking ourselves is often glorified on social media and in the workplace. Not only should you be wondering how this is affecting you long term, but you should also start considering how this may be affecting your children.  

A child reading a book

Childhood stress is normal, but when it is not managed, it can lead to burnout. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Identifying stress in children

Although it may seem as though children should not have much to stress about, there are things in a child’s life that can create stress on their bodies and minds. Stress in children can stem from many things, such as school work, learning to make friends, life at home, trauma, and a variety of other things. 

Symptoms can include increasing fear of a variety of things, change in emotions (consistent anger, anxiety, sadness), insomnia, recurring physical illness, changes in eating habits, or not wanting to be around others. 

Stress is not necessarily a bad thing in children. But, if it is not managed, it can lead to a stress or anxiety disorder, or burnout. Burnout can then lead to a plethora of other symptoms. 

How to help kids from burning out

Just like adults, kids should be making time to do the things they love rather than just the activities that bring them stress and anxiety. There are various activities that are proven to help reduce burnout within both children and adults.

Woman and small child play on the piano

Music therapy can be a beneficial outlet for children to de-stress and refrain from burning themselves out. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Music therapy

Music therapy has a variety of benefits, especially for children. When it comes to stress, it can  reduce it greatly by helping children  learn something new and take their mind off of their stressors. Because music is known to increase mood, listening to music counteracts the impact of negative emotions

Music therapy sessions are customized from patient to patient– just like a normal therapy session would be. The difference is that music therapy can help the patients who are not sure how to express their emotions more than regular therapy can, especially with kids. 

Child sits on bench overlooking a body of water

Encouraging your child to relax will let them know that they do not have to over-work to prove themselves in school, athletics, or to you. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Having a conversation about relaxing

No matter how young your child is, it is important to remind them consistently that it is encouraged to ask for help if needed, and that they do not have to do everything alone. Make sure that your child has time to relax, and help them  build a routine where there are times specifically where school work is not allowed. Not only will this encourage productivity within the allotted time, but it will also push them to have time to rest and do the things that they enjoy doing. 

Depending on your child’s age, this can be difficult. Especially during the transition from middle to high school, which can be a time where children tend to push themselves to “grow up,” compare themselves to their peers, and overwork themselves (whether that be academically, socially, or within athletics). Downtime is important, and you may have to remind them of this often. 

Girl sleeping in a bed

A regular sleep routine is good for the mind and body– encouraging this at an early age for your children will make a huge difference in the way they handle stress. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Developing a regular sleep routine

Not only is it important that you help your child stay on a regular sleep schedule, but also you should be on one yourself, as they will look to you as a role model when it comes to managing your own stress. How much sleep your child should get is different from child to child, but you want to make sure that they are aiming for at least 9 hours of sleep per night to stay healthy and happy. Being on a regular sleep schedule will encourage that. Be sure to consult your child’s doctor to see how many hours of sleep are best for their age range. 

A person writing on paper with a pen

Sometimes, all it takes is to look at things from a different perspective to see a shift in mindset. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Encourage your child to look at things from a different perspective

If you make sure to talk positively to your child, and to encourage them to shift their perspective to a more positive outlook, this can also help to decrease burnout. When they look at life through the lens of having opportunities to do many amazing things rather than thinking they are being forced to do tons of things that are stressful, inherently they will be less anxious. Sometimes a shift of perspective is all it takes to help their mental state. Having a positive outlook on life will go a long way, and completely change their process of growing up and becoming an adult. 

Teenage boy with hands on face, stressed.

Children will often mirror what they see the adults around them doing, so you may want to first look to yourself and assess how you manage your own stress. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Regulating how you manage stress as an adult

So many of the habits that children adapt are learned behaviors from their parents, guardians, and the adults that surround them on a daily basis. If you make note of the way that you handle your own stress and identify whether or not you are burning yourself out, this is a good place to identify more ways to help your children. You need to help yourself before you are able to help others, because you cannot pour from an empty glass. 

Three teens sit at a picnic table and read together

Identifying the symptoms of stress early on can help to alleviate the effects of burnout later in a child’s life. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

Effects of unmanaged burnout

Unmanaged burnout can lead to many other issues, such as depression, and other mental health problems. This is why it is so important for parents, guardians and teachers to identify when a child is struggling with burnout or unmanaged stress, and quickly take measures to fix the cause.

Savannah Dawson
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