How to Help a Child Suffering from Student Burnout

Student Burnout

Being a student in a highly competitive academic environment can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the said environment provides kids with incredible opportunities for a world-class education.

On the other hand, however, there’s unrelenting pressure for kids to succeed. This drive for excellence is firmly rooted in Singapore’s academic landscape, and it permeates both local and international schools with American education Singapore expats are looking for. 

While the competitive academic culture often keeps Singapore at the top of the charts in world educational rankings, it can also take its toll on students’ well-being, especially when it comes to mental health.

Results from the 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) revealed not just the students’ glowing high marks but also their high level of stress. On test anxiety and achievement motivation, there were significantly higher rates compared to those of other participating countries. 

This sheds light on the stress and anxiety that students may be feeling and the phenomenon of academic burnout. The extreme pressure to achieve is a possible manifestation of the culture of excellence that is predominant in the city-state, without which creating a high-value economy like Singapore’s wouldn't even be possible. 

However, it also highlights the responsibility of parents and educators to think of innovative, creative, and scientifically grounded ways to help children cope with burnout.
Indeed, as a parent, it’s essential to know more about this condition so that you can understand your child better and address the issue in a constructive and compassionate manner. 

academic burnout

Here’s everything you need to know about student burnout and how you can help your child through it.

Identifying Academic Burnout

First, what is academic burnout, and what differentiates it from mere laziness or a mental health condition like depression? There’s a simple way to differentiate laziness from burnout, and that’s lack of effort. 

If your child does not put in the work to finish their school requirements, you may be able to ascribe the problem to bad habits that you can work on together. 

However, if your child diligently studies for prolonged periods that sometimes last until the wee hours of the morning, but still find themselves unhappy and at a standstill, burnout may be the problem.

Academic burnout can manifest in school-aged children in different ways, with some of the most common symptoms being the following:
  • Anxiety about schoolwork
  • Constant frustration about the limits of one’s academic abilities
  • Difficulty concentrating, despite putting in the effort to do one’s best
  • Constant feelings of exhaustion and fatigue

It’s important for parents to know that burnout is different from depression. Burnout is better characterized as a temporary feeling of exhaustion and stress, which can oftentimes be remedied by creating distance from a student’s stressors. 

This can be in the form of having breaks or getting into more enjoyable activities. Depression, however, is a complex mental health condition that’s diagnosed and treated by a medical health professional. 

Unlike typical burnout, depression may remain even after a student, their parents, and their teachers have done the preliminary work to eliminate immediate causes of anxiety and stress.

Overcoming Student Burnout

In many ways, student burnout is similar to burnout at work. The same high expectations and overwhelming responsibilities can push both students and professional achievers to their limits. 

But many coping mechanisms and strategies for mitigating burnout in the workplace may also be applicable to a fast-paced academic setting. Help your child cope with student burnout in the following ways:

1. Insist on Taking Study Breaks

Looming project deadlines and exam periods can drive your child into a schoolwork frenzy, and without a guiding hand, they may easily overwork themselves to the point of burnout. 

Knowing that, gently remind them to take breaks every so often to recharge. Their breaks can be short if they’re on a tight schedule, and they don’t have to do anything too complicated when they’re on rest periods. 

Some deep breathing exercises, meditations, or quick walks around the neighborhood may do a lot to help them pause and re-energize their minds.

2. Minimize Their Social Media and Phone Use

You may think that leaving your child to scroll through their social media on their smartphone constitutes a proper break. But in truth, the overstimulation brought on by social media can often overwhelm them. 

On top of distracting them in ways that aren’t always healthy, constant smartphone use--especially before bedtime—may result in poor sleep, thus making burnout even worse. 

It’s highly encouraged that you moderate smartphone and social media time so that your child can rest properly, both mentally and emotionally.

3. Help Organize Their Schedules and Goals

Setting goals and planning your child’s day can keep them from cramming, panicking at the last minute, and suffering from feelings of burnout and helplessness. You can do a lot to help them develop time management skills and get better at keeping track of their school activities and priorities.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

As a parent, make it a point to know your child’s passions, abilities, and limitations. Don’t be the tiger parent that expects the moon even when you know your child will be unable to deliver. 

Instead, focus on supporting their interests and nurturing their natural talents. You’ll have a happier child who thrives because their parents provide unconditional love and genuine support.

5. Model Healthy Habits

You can lecture and tell your child what’s good for them, but nothing beats actually doing these things yourself. Whether you like it or not, your child will emulate what you do and not what you tell them to do. 

To raise happy and well-rounded achievers, strive to be one yourself. Don’t glamorize overworking or basing all of one’s self-worth simply on their achievements.

6. Seek Help When Needed

There’s no harm or stigma in seeking professional mental health services, especially if the burnout seems symptomatic of something more. 

If you and your child feel too overwhelmed to deal with student burnout on your own, set an appointment for them to speak to the school counselor or a recommended therapist. 

As with any health issue, it’s better to deal with the problem early than to wait for the symptoms to get worse.

Ultimately, students cope with stress and pressure in different ways. Some may be more resilient than others, but nobody deserves to suffer through student burnout and to be unhappy throughout their school life.

Academic burnout is a serious matter, but as a parent, you can definitely do something to help your child overcome this roadblock.Be an advocate for your child’s physical and mental health, and make their health and happiness your number one priority.

Sii Nurul

Fulltime sabahan blogger since 2015 who love to write and sharing in her blog. Married with Mohamad Syafrie

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  1. Stress from study sebenarnya different dari bekerja. Tidak dinafikan..

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