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Calming Anxious Lives
A Holistic Parenting Approach
by lisa marshall
For fourth-grader Skylar Shumate, a typical Tuesday looks like this. Rise at dawn for some toaster
waffles and juice before sprinting to the bus at 7:15 a.m. Study for spelling en route to school.
Embark on a seven-hour school day, filled with classes and quizzes. Head to cheerleading at
3:15 p.m., hip-hop class at 5 p.m., then return home to practice piano and do homework before
grabbing dinner and heading to bed.
In all, Skylar reports, she is a happy kid. “But sometimes, if I’m super stressed, I’ll go cry in
my room,” she confesses. “I sometimes just wish there wasn’t so much pressure.”
S
uch a statement from a child is Health Information Center, anxiety
more stressed than ever.
particularly chilling. But, ac- disorders affect 13 out of every 100
“We have stumbled into a unique
cording to a growing body of children ages 9 to 17.
moment in the history of childhood,
research and legions of concerned Nationwide, healthcare provid-
a cocktail of cultural and historical
child development experts, Skylar is ers report an increase in stress-related
trends that have intersected to create
not alone. health problems like stomach aches,
a perfect storm,” says Carl Honoré, a
teeth grinding, sleep disorders and
41-year-old father of two and author
troubling trends
behavioral problems in children as
of Under Pressure: Rescuing our
According to a study by the Califor-
young as preschool age. Some anxiety
Children from the Culture of Hyper-
nia-based Lucile Packard Founda-
can be attributed to trouble at home,
Parenting.
tion for Children’s Health, up to 70
such as abuse or personal tragedy. But
He notes how anxious parents
percent of parents report that their
a more insidious culprit appears to
are feeling the need to prepare their
9- to 13-year-old children experience
have emerged: a culture of hyper-par-
kids for a tough job market. They have
moderate to high levels of stress. In a
enting, in which kids are oversched-
money to afford extracurricular activi-
recent poll of high school students by
uled and academically overloaded,
ties, and because they are becoming
Stanford University, 65 percent admit-
and adult role models—concerned
parents later in life and raising fewer
ted they were often or always stressed
about everything from terrorism to
children, they have a tendency to
out. According to the National Mental
pandemics and the economy—are
dote on them and expect great things.
26 Phoenix
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