We’ve heard it time and again—growing up is never easy. It can be filled with great joys as well as difficult experiences that shape a young persons’ life at a very early age. There’s so much going on in the minds of our tweens (8-12 years old), it’s no wonder that many of them find themselves confused and worried. Many live in a state of turbulence, emotional distress and uncertainty. If you’re an adult reading this, you may be saying, this is nothing new – – I had to deal with the hard issues or much worse circumstances growing up. While this may be true, it is important that we as adults understand the levels of complexity and social anxiety that our tweens are experiencing at a much younger age than previous generations. With the advent of digital platforms and ubiquitous connectivity, our tweens are exposed to much more, much faster on an exponentially larger scale. While technology has done so much good for so many, there is without question a downside that educators, researchers and parents are just now beginning to fully understand.
Unbelievable, But True Stats…
A survey conducted by The National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey sampled 300 emergency rooms in The United States. They tracked young people ages 5 to 18 years old who received a diagnosis of suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide.
In 2007 the survey found that 580,000 young people were diagnosed with suicidal thoughts or had made an attempt on their own life. In 2015, that number skyrocketed to 1.12 million. This is simply unacceptable.
Believe It or Not…
Here is what is even more alarming— the average age of the child at the time of evaluation in the emergency room was just 13. A full 43% of the visits were in children between 5 and 11 years old!
What We Do and How We Reach Students…
BIZNOVATOR empowers young people globally and reaching thousands annually through our customized programs – – coaching, seminars, workshops, camps and in school Academies. In my 30+ years of empowering and teaching youth globally, I can honestly say I have never seen statistics that are a cause for so much concern. It’s an epidemic! I can also tell you that anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide DO NOT DISCRIMINATE! It could be the child (or adult) who you least expect.
The What and the Why of Being Aware…
At BIZNOVATOR we believe there are numerous reasons for the huge increases in these statistics. Through my observations in working with youth ages 8 to 21, I have seen that most issues are related to kids dealing with enormous amounts of pressure to achieve and succeed. Today’s youth are faced with a hyper competitive environment on a global scale. It is compounded by the stresses of testing and academic achievement at school while also being exposed to social pressures that are exacerbated by the pervasive nature of social media platforms.
As parents and educators, we need to be aware of these statistics and foster healthy communication with our children as to not overlook potential warning signs.
Here are 5 areas to be aware of when working with your children or students.
Competition. The pressure that it comes with… academic, sports, being accepted to the best school or college, being cool – – these are challenges that can be exacerbated by unhealthy competition. Always strive to reinforce the strengths in every child while guiding them positively on areas of improvement.
Substance Abuse. We think this only affects teenagers (13-19), but trust me, the tweens are just as curious. Look for signs and keep an open dialogue with your children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
Depression (the big D). Depression has no age limit. It can attack adults and young people alike. Before assuming your kids are depressed, monitor their sleeping, eating habits, circle of friends. Live by the adage, “tell me who you hang with, and I’ll tell you who you are”.
Anxiety. Panic, social anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, all of these disorders are very common and can eventually lead to severe depression. Observe the tweens behavioral and physical symptoms – -sleeping, solitude, nervousness, fear and feelings of unease.
Self-Esteem. This can be a significant problem in tweens. Is your tween not wanting to get up every day, not wanting to confront their reality or afraid of failure even before they attempt to accomplish something or enter an event.
If your answers to these questions are yes, it is very important to be proactive as a parent or educator and open up clear lines of communication with your tween. Consult with other adults and always seek professional care when needed. Our children are our most precious gift!
BIZNOVATOR is a youth empowerment platform that offers a year-round experience for young people interested in entrepreneurship, social innovation and global leadership. Through our seminars, workshops, summer camps and in school Academies, BIZNOVATOR helps young people to DISCOVER their purpose, TRANSFORM their mindset and CONNECT to their future. We have recently launched our Online Learning Platform, www.mybiznovator.com which enables young people from all over the world to experience our unique BIZNOVATOR programs. We invite you to join us!
Juan Pablo Casimiro is Founder and CEO of BIZNOVATOR. With more than 30 years of empowering youth and adults globally, Casimiro never misses a moment to teach, coach and challenge his clients to live their dreams. Casimiro was born in Dominican Republic and grew up in New York City.