The children too?
Béatrice Millêtre, psychologist and author of Child burnout. And if were we asking too much of them? (1)
Are the children also affected by this feeling of being overwhelmed?
Yes. Before, we talked about stress. For four to five years, it’s something else. I see more and more children from the age of 8 who come to see me saying: » I can not stand it anymore « , with the impression of no longer having time to play, or enjoy things. Some arrive with a real minister’s agenda, filled with activities in addition to school time. The global discourse of society, where you always have to be perfect, influences children. This pressure does not only manifest itself in the family context, with parents concerned about success. She is also present with friends and at school. From the age of 10, they are asked to know what they are going to do later. For many who do not know, it is a great source of anxiety.
How does this manifest?
Like an adult burnout. A child who comes back exhausted, for no reason, even after the holidays. His brain no longer seems to think correctly, as if he was short-circuited, including in the face of skills and know-how very well mastered so far. With the impression that, whatever he does, it won’t work, or won’t work anymore, and that he no longer sees any sense in all this.
What to do to help him ?
It is important, at this time, to break the rhythm. To put it a little « green ». The child needs both to feel that we are listening to his “overflow” while offering him other leads. Children’s author Susie Morgenstern also offers in her novel Joker an original solution, which works well: give the child a few « jokers » over a limited period. When he feels he really can’t take it anymore, he can use these jokers to miss an activity, or even a class. In situations close to burn-out or depression, this can help to avoid the crack: he thus has an escape, a lever of action and, contrary to what one might think, he does not abuse it. . It is not a question of letting him decide everything, but of listening to his desires, so that he can discover himself and know who he is. On the question of meaning, we can, for example, offer stories from people who are passionate about their profession, such as a starred chef or an astronaut. This allows them to open up new horizons and to (re)tell themselves that life can be great!