Updated: May 8, 2020
I was driving my four year old to preschool this morning, which, as she puts it, was chatty-chat-chatting about anything that came to mind. Sometimes I’ll zone out a bit – my brain can get overloaded with the nonstop noise and drift to other things. As I was half listening this morning, something this sweet kid said brought me right back to the present.
Her friends were “stressing.” Jigga-what? She’s FOUR.
She asked if I knew what stressing meant. To which I responded, “Do you?”. She had a pretty good grasp of the definition, which surprised me more than it maybe should have. Although we may feel it in our adult and professional lives, it’s never a word that my husband and I use around the kids. And, honestly, it doesn’t get said in our adult conversations much either.
So, where did she hear this? Preschool. Of all the non-educational things she’s learned from her friends in preschool, this one bothers me. Bring back the other S-word (which is stupid, if you’re wondering). Why on earth are preschool kids chatting over the water table about how stressed they are?
When did we get to this place of overwhelm? Where stress and busy and hurry have such a place in our home that our four year olds not only feel our anxiety, but talk about it with their friends?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 25% of 13- to 18-year-olds have an anxiety disorder. A recent Pew survey found that 70% of teens say anxiety and depression is a “major problem” among their peers.
Could it be that we as parents, and as a society, are contributing to this epidemic? Our kids are losing the carefree nature of childhood. It feels like in this go-go-go, over connected world, we all may need to take a moment to step back from our busy lives. To be more present. To step outside, play together, and laugh a little.
The world needs the you that you were created to be – not the harried, stress-out, screen-filled version that’s taken over. Let’s do better for our little people. The only thing that should be stressing out our four year olds is whose turn it is to be the next line leader.