Top Concerns for Kids & Students

In a recent conversation with Schweitzer staff about the next generation, Schweitzer Kids Directors, Stiffany Taylor and Taylor Zen, and Student Director Levi Zen shared five top concerns. These are common among elementary, middle and high school students.

1. Anxiety about their future
2. Busy Schedule
3. Grades at School
4. Relationships with Friends & Family
5. Self-Sufficiency – “I want to do it on my own.”

As part of a series of articles focusing on the Next Generation, we will be talking about these five topics both in this issue of the Spark and in the upcoming issues as well.

Julie Ruble, who attends Schweitzer, has worked as a school counselor for 24 years, and now serves as a private therapist and school-based therapist for Burrell Behavioral Health. We asked her to share some insights about anxiety and kids.

“Did you know the two greatest mental health concerns for kids aged 6 to 11 are anxiety and depression? Does this surprise you? Many consider these ages to be part of the carefree days of childhood, so why would anxiety and depression be topics of concern? Having worked as a counselor with children and teens the last 25 years, I decided to pursue this further.

I took an impromptu poll of some of the young people I interact with about their top sources of anxiety. It turns out social media is their number one stressor, and busyness their number two stressor.

Perhaps less well known by young people is that a big task at this age is the development of their personal identity—who they are as a person and how they relate to others. It’s evident that identity, social media, busyness, and anxiety are all related. Oftentimes, social media creates confusion when it comes to understanding identity, which leads to more anxiety.

Not knowing who you are raises anxiety in all of us – young and old. However, the young are particularly vulnerable to this thought as they change and develop. For every age, it’s important to be reminded that we are all made in the image of God.

People who do not understand this will continue to wonder who they are and how they relate to others. As parents and adult leaders, God asks us to help guide the next generation. He simply asks us to be his hands and feet in this world – and let the Holy Spirit work through us in the lives of our young people (and everyone else, for that matter).

Practically speaking, if social media and busyness are stressing our young people (which my research shows to be true), then we should try to reduce these stressors. Here are a few ways to start:

• Set time limits for social media exposure
• Respect and maintain age limits for access to certain platforms
• Limit who can contact your kid or student online

Likewise, there are ways to slow down excessive busyness. For example, follow God’s plan and keep the Sabbath a day of rest. This means keeping it a day for family, church, praise, and relaxation. On this day, consider having your kids (maybe yourself too) fast from social media and other intrusive electronic media.

It is a big challenge to figure out how to reduce anxiety for a whole age group, but we can remember this: God loves our children even more than we love our children. This may seem difficult to imagine. Within my own family, I would often focus on the fact that God has everything under control. This thought alone often relieved the pressure.”

____

Our Schweitzer Kids and Student Ministry leaders are always looking to encourage the students and families. During the week, we invite you to stop by the NextGen office to chat or share a snack or coffee with Stiffany, Taylor, or Levi.

Latest articles

Related articles