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September 20, 2012 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-09-20

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metro >> on the cover

Too Much


Stressed-out students need to find ways
to let off steam and refocus on life.

Ronelle Grier I Contributing Writer


She added that changes at home, such
as divorce or financial struggles, also
cause stress that can
affect teens' school work
and social relationships.
"Stress in America:
a 2010 study by the
American Psychological
Association, reported
nearly one-third of
children experienced
Dr. Toni
health symp-
toms often associated
with stress; including trouble falling and/
or staying asleep, headaches and upset
Tweens and teens said they frequently
turn to sedentary behaviors to relieve
stress, such as listening to music, watch-
ing television or playing video games.
Parental stress was found to impact the
emotional well-being of their offspring.
While 69 percent of parents surveyed
believed their own stress had little or no
impact on their kids, 91 percent of chil-
dren said their parents' stress made them
feel sad, worried or frustrated.

Feeling That Stress

During registration at Frankel Jewish
Academy in West Bloomfield, seniors
Allison Karp, Leah Jacobs and Amanda
Goodman, all of West Bloomfield, talked
about the stress they were feeling about
the upcoming school year.
"I stress about every little thing — the
ACT, college applications, AP work, regu-
lar work, senior pictures, tutors: Karp
said. "There's a lot of pressure."
All three students are taking AP
(Advanced Placement) courses, which
include summer homework assignments
due when classes begin.
"Going into senior year shouldn't be
this stressful: said Jacobs.


"A lot of families have experienced tough
° financial times. Middle school students
tend to take these problems harder; they
are often more self-centered at that age.
High school kids seem to have more
empathy for their parents; they also rely
more on their friends for support.7
Graff advises parents not to shield chil-
dren from economic struggles because it
prevents them from developing coping .
and problem-solving skills.
"They need to learn how to deal with
loss and disappointment, that it's OK not
to make a team or get a part in the play:
she said. "Coping skills are important for
alleviating stress."
Psychologist Kaplan agrees, adding that
teens who have not developed healthy
coping skills may try to self-medicate
with marijuana, alcohol, prescription
All smiles now, but some stress is a factor for FJA students Jesse Arm, Sierra
drugs and sugar-laden foods. She warns
Stone, Natalie Bloom and Sammy Kay, all of West Bloomfield.
that these kinds of "quick fixes" can lead
to addiction, legal problems, compulsive
One of the greatest stressors for high
who said they learned the hard way that
eating and other health problems.
schoolers is what Kaplan refers to as
procrastination increased stress.
"The higher the boost, the greater the
"time poverty"
"I'm stressed about applying to colleg-
fall," she said.
"Teens can't discover who they are
es, so I'm doing it early instead of waiting
without time for reflection and downtime until the last minute: said Sierra Stone, a
Helping Students Cope
... this is the time to develop identity,"
West Bloomfield senior.
Kaplan encourages parents to provide
she said. "Also, their bodies become
Middle school students also suffer from guidance and encouragement without
restored by downtime, and most of them
stress, but it is usually different than that
being overprotective or excessively con-
are sleep deprived."
experienced by older teens, according to
trolling. It is a fine line, especially for par-
Annie Jacobson of West Bloomfield is
West Bloomfield High School guidance
ents who want their children to succeed
excited about starting her freshman year
counselor Lisa Graff, who spent 15 years
without experiencing failure.
at the University of Michigan in Ann
at a middle school before assuming her
"We put so much emphasis on dan-
Arbor, but admits she is worried about
current position.
ger ... instead of coping abilities: said
getting enough sleep.
"I didn't realize how night-and-day dif-
Kaplan. "Parents have bought into the
"That was a big factor in high school,"
ferent they are: said Graff. "High school
culture of fear. If you are constantly over-
said Jacobson, who averaged five to six
students have 'real world' problems, such
serving, meeting all their needs, kids are
hours of sleep on school nights. "I took
as college admissions and getting a good
not challenged or taught. We focus on
two or three AP courses, participated
grade in that AP course. "
safety at expense of the children."
in theater, USY and I had a job — there
Graff said that when middle school
One tool Kaplan and other profession-
was something every night. Sleep was the students experience stress, it is usually
als use is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
thing I would forego to make sure every-
because of social or family situations
(CBT), which involves recognizing, inter-
thing else worked."
rather than academic issues.
rupting and re-routing negative thoughts.
Jacobson was among several students
"Financial issues are huge: Graff said.
"The hallmark of anxiety is imagining

Too Much on page 10

September 20 2012

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