“Mom, I am burned out.”
These are not words you expect to hear from a ten year old. Yet here I was, listening to my normally chipper, curious, and school-loving kid utter them. He dipped his head and rubbed his eyes for several seconds, and then said it again: “I am so burned out.”
Overworked and stressed-out adults complain about burnout. But kids?
According to Katrina Rozga, the BFDC’s Managing Director and Psychotherapist, burnout can happen at any age, and children are not immune.
When adults burn out, it is typically from job-related stressors, including (from mayoclinic.org):
If you look more closely at the causes above, it is clear that many of them could easily apply to students attending school online for months at a time.
Children taking online classes:
Some kids might simply say, “I am burned out.” Others may not know the term, or may have difficulty articulating their feelings. Parents should look out for these signs of burnout:
These signs may indicate that other problems are present, but they are all potential symptoms of burnout as well. Check in with your child to understand how they are feeling.
Burnout in children is real. Think of how you feel when you are burned out, and then consider how you can help your child.
Take a sick day
Allow your child to take a mental health day, just as you would if they were physically unwell. Avoid screens during that time so they get a full break from online activities. Plan for some outdoor activity and fun to take their minds off school.
Maintain a healthy routine
Routines are reassuring, and should include regular breaks from work. Make sure that your child is taking proper breaks away from their screens and having healthy snacks and meals. After school, ensure that they have free play time, exercise, and the opportunity to get outdoors in a safe, socially-distanced manner.
Talk to your child
Your child may know exactly what is causing them to burn out. Ask them about changing work areas, getting different equipment, or reaching out to a “scary” teacher with questions about a big assignment. Rewards can be helpful, too.
Look behind their behavior
Remember that burnout can look like bad behavior. A child who is irritable, angry or otherwise misbehaving may be struggling in school. If you child has changed from cheerful and engaged to sullen and irritable, consider that it may be a sign, rather than a behavioural problem.
If your child seems to be struggling with burnout, contact the BFDC. We can help.