As adults, we are quite familiar with the term “burnout.” We understand and are gentle with our friends and family who seem to be struggling with the symptoms that suggest they are emotionally and physically fatigued with their work lives.
Adults often complain about “burnout” when they have put in long work weeks (years) in succession, without a sense of accomplishment. Adults typically are “bored” with their work, do not see themselves as having value or able to make progress. Adults begin to question if they need to take time off, re-evaluate personal goals, need to divest themselves of their intense commitment to work, and eventually begin to suspect that they need to change careers.
What about Children? Do they get have “burn-out” as a diagnosis for similar symptoms?
As work is for adults: school is for kids.
Work can be a place of emotional struggle: school can become a place of emotional struggle for kids.
It is a notable occurence that quite often, starting in February, teachers begin to see a demonstration of “burn out” symptoms in grade school students, as well as middle grade and high school students.
As I see it, here are some symptoms of burnout for school children:
- A decrease in attention span.
- An increase in non-compliant behaviors.
- A fatigue in wanting to follow the same routines in the classroom.
- Being either sleepy in class or being a willing instigator or participant in class clowning.
- Increased peer disagreements.
- Increased teacher-student power struggles.
If we can recognize that school children suffer from burnout, then might we be proactive in offering kids a way to take a “vacation” from routine, but continue the learning process? If we can offer stimulation and motivation in a different, creative manner, might not we help our children to understand how important it is to meet the brain an body’s burnout by changing routine? What a great life-learning lesson. That when the demand of routine becomes the lethargy of the mind, that we have the ability to change and be successful?
By creating an expectation that we can empower ourselves with imagination–we are helping to teach one of life’s most valuable lessons. It does not mean that we have forgone our responsibilities or commitments, it means that we are able to teach our brain to look at the problem from “outside the box.”
So maybe for February, we could look forward to more class projects, inner school competitions, proscribed silliness, and increased physical activity. The mind takes manyof its signals from the body. Why not take advantage of this awesome check and balance system to beat the February Blues?
Be gentle with yourself and your children.