Stressed-Out Children

▪ “I didn’t have enough time. I’m tired,” said Pablo, an eight-year-old boy, when his teacher asked him about his homework. Like this bleary-eyed boy in Spain, many children face long, tiring days that may include 12 hours or more of lessons and homework. Why such long days?

Some parents enroll their children in after-school activities to keep them busy until Mom or Dad comes home. Others impose a demanding schedule on their young ones because they want them to excel at school and pursue a successful career. To that end, many South Korean parents send their teens to “cram schools,” where they endure exhausting schedules, sometimes from 7:30 a.m. until midnight or later for up to seven days a week. “Their obsession to get their children into top-notch universities is nothing short of ‘a war,’” says a New York Times report.

The Spanish weekly Mujer hoy states: “‘Pushy parents’ want the best for their children, but they require very high performance from them.” To meet their parents’ expectations, children may demand too much of themselves, which can be very stressful. “According to our observation, young ones are overloaded,” says Antonio Cano, president of the Spanish Society for the Study of Anxiety and Stress. According to another authority, 40 percent of children in Spain under 15 years of age suffer from too much stress. Such pressure can exact a toll, perhaps even leading to suicide. In South Korea, for example, “among young people 10 to 19, suicide is the second most common cause of death, after traffic accidents,” says The New York Times.

Of course, young ones should work hard at school, and parents should give them all the help they possibly can, for those years will never be repeated. But “children are not adults. They cannot cope with such long, tiring days,” says Irene Arrimadas, a teacher. Aware of this, loving parents make sure that their children have adequate time for rest and wholesome family activities. Pointing to the need for balance, wise King Solomon wrote: “Better is a handful of rest than a double handful of hard work and striving after the wind.”​—Ecclesiastes 4:6. *


^ par. 5 For a detailed discussion of the pressures that many children face, see the series of articles “Under Pressure in School and Out,” in the April 2009 issue of Awake!