Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?

As a mother of a high school freshman, and a 4-year-old who is getting ready to step on the path of higher education, I am very interested in this research. Why do some kids do so much better in competitive stressful settings than others? Why has my 14-year-old always enjoyed tests at school and was never worried sick about them while some of her friends would literally make themselves sick with worry?

How can I help and support my kids to do well at school, to enjoy the process of education and have fun with it?

Now that she is older my high schooler gets ready all by herself and I often am still asleep when she leaves for school, but for years waving her goodbye I would say: “Have fun and try to learn something!”

I think unintentionally we have always put a humorous spin on most things “school”. We had to, after all she was always the youngest in her grade, she was 3 weeks shy of her 14th birthday when she started high school (we used to live in California where school age cut off was December, not September like in Mass). For a variety of reasons, mostly moving, she changed over a dozen schools and yet maintained her positive open-minded attitude and good grades throughout. So far so good, she enjoys school and I would love to be able to help her little sister to feel the same way.

How do we emphasize  that stress may not be a bad thing?!

Understanding their propensity to become stressed and how to deal with it can help children compete. Stress turns out to be far more complicated than we’ve assumed, and far more under our control than we imagine. Unlike long-term stress, short-term stress can actually help people perform, and viewing it that way changes its effect. Even for those genetically predisposed to anxiety, the antidote isn’t necessarily less competition — it’s more competition. It just needs to be the right kind.

Read this New York Times article here.

To your health!

Elena

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