Over the past few weeks Tara Bennett from Wild Heart has been conducting workshops with our Year 8 and 9 students about assisting the students to identify what are the greatest pressures in their lives and then more importantly how can they develop skills and strategies for coping with these pressures so that these pressures don’t become overwhelming and lead to anxiety and depression.
The most common life pressures identified were;
- Fitting in with friends and being liked
- Making others proud and not disappointing their parents
- Academic pressure and the need to maintain a high standard all of the time
- Living up to expectations
- Being compared to high achieving siblings
- Balancing the demands of school and having a social life
- Keeping up with everything they have to do
Many of the students felt reassured that many of the pressures they were feeling were also felt by their peers and they weren’t alone. Having the opportunity to share their common experiences was very powerful for the students.
Growing up these days is incredibly hard and students in Hong Kong are under enormous pressure to be successful. Numerous articles and studies can be found about the alarming escalating rates of anxiety, depression and suicide amongst teenagers and young adults living in Hong Kong. One study from 2018 found that one in three secondary students in Hong Kong was suffering from stress, anxiety or depression.
So, what can we do as parents?
- Relax and don’t take life too seriously, spend time and have some fun with your children
- Help your children to find balance in their lives
- Allow your children to have a social life, to play sport and exercise and to get plenty of sleep
- Set realistic expectations for your children
- Don’t place too much academic pressure on your children
- Try to avoid comparing siblings
- Accept and love your children for who they are
- Understand that our children may be very different to ourselves and they may not follow the path that we expect or want them to
- Tell your children that you are proud of them for the effort they put in rather than the results they achieve
- Tell your child you love them every day (even when they really annoy you!)
Mark Hemphill | Head of School