What is Happening to Our Youth Today?


In  September, 2018 I wrote about the ever increasing number of teenagers that are presenting with anxiety. Since then I have read several more articles related to the topic. The most disturbing is the sharp increase in suicide for teens and pre-teens. 31 young people have taken their lives in the East Valley within the last 15 months. A story in the East Valley Tribune described the problem and steps the community is taking. The article talks about the need for our youth to “develop emotional resiliency” and learning to develop coping skills from the everyday setbacks that most people experience at one time or another. Learning experiences should develop self-esteem and a sense of identity from “productive struggle’’ – which might mean failure in a variety of ways, such as flunking a test, striking out in a baseball game or a setback in a relationship.” Click here for the full article .

It appears as though Social Media is also playing a role in this uptick of suicide. I came across another article that talks about how students are constantly being bullied on Instagram. Kids are posting “Hate Pages” about other students. Read more here.

In today’s day and age it is so critical that parents pay close attention to their children, whether they are young and in elementary school or college age as this epidemic does not discriminate by age. I have also recently heard the term “Duck Syndrome” which was coined by Stanford University and seems to be running rampant at many colleges and in many high schools as well.

What is the Duck Syndrome? Well, think of a duck gliding along the water. She looks very serene, calm and pleasant. Then, if you look under the water, she is paddling frantically. That is the Duck Syndrome — too many students on the outside appear calm, cool, and collected while on the inside they are completely stressed out. It’s a “fake it till you make it” mentality. For many, they want to be the great student, the great athlete, and well-liked by peers. Below are some of the symptoms of someone struggling with the duck syndrome:

  • The person appears as though they have it all together
  • Inside their head they are screaming out of rage, stress and helplessness that they feel
  • They have excessive demands on them, that they feel they must live up to
  • They may have one appearance to the public and one appearance, the real them, while at home alone

While the symptoms may be something that are not seen by the naked eye. Most health professionals look at the underlying depression, anxiety and other mental health problems that are making the person feel like this.

We even see this at our driving school. Students stressing out and completely paralyzed by anxiety. For some, they just can’t get behind the wheel and some come to the conclusion that they don’t want to learn to drive anymore. In our society it is pretty important for them to become mobile and independent and the best way to do that is by learning to drive.

It is essential to let these kids know that we are working with them at their pace, not ours. They can take as long as necessary to develop the skill-set to be good, safe, defensive drivers. Some can do it in 6 months, others may take 8, 10, 12 or more months to develop the necessary skills. It really depends on them and of course, on their support system and how much practice they are getting. What we do know is that driving is not something we can force on an individual. All we can do is pull them along and help them see that “yes, you can do this,” and they can take all the time they need to feel like they’re ready to be solo.” We need parents to develop that same mind-set, because, unfortunately, a lot of the pressure kids feel today comes from home. The expectations placed on them by their parents can be crushing.

Give this some thought, parents, are you placing too much pressure on your child to perform in some or all aspects of their life? The articles above should provide you with food for thought on the topic.

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Maria Wojtczak
Maria Wojtczak is Chief Operating Officer at DrivingMBA. She has extensive knowledge in teen brain development and has pioneered many techniques used to teach students at DrivingMBA. Her passion for teaching and saving teen lives has made her a leader in the driver training industry.


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