Burnout refers to acute emotional exhaustion due to permanent or temporary excessive demand. It can manifest itself in reduced productivity and may lead to total fatigue, apathy, and some other psychosomatic disorders. There is also an increased risk for any kind of dependency disorder.
It is essential to know that burnout syndrome is not a separate, recognized disease within science. It is considered a problem with your skills and how you tackle life. Burnout is seen exclusively in adults, but burnout in children and adolescents is also possible.
Kids can be burnt out for different reasons. Whether your child is striving to make it through school or just struggling to keep up with the changes in the world, the signs of burnout can be the same.
Burnout is also common in sports, where highly driven young athletes struggle with overtraining syndrome. Kids are often surrounded by the hype of sports, and it is easy to see how a young athlete could push young athletes by overtraining themselves. Burnout occurs in sports when an athlete has worsening performance despite intense training.
While burnout in school happens when students face ongoing stress or frustration and have no time to relax and recharge. This can occur when your kid has too much to deal with. Imagine having a full school day and working with a reading specialist twice a week. Add another two hours for soccer practice or piano lessons. Yes, your child loves to do all her activities, but when she gets home at 6, she still needs to do her homework. She may be able to push through it. Still eventually, she may burst into tears over little things, and she will complain angrily about everything. In the end, she does both but has no energy and enthusiasm for either.
Anyone can feel burned out. Most commonly, athletes can feel it in sports. Students can be burned out in school. Kids who learn and think differently may be more susceptible to burnout; they work hard to build skills and often face more hurdles and setbacks than their peers. All the hard work and stress can turn into overload and lead to burnout. And when it does, it can squash the very motivation that keeps them working to improve.
Here are the common signs of burnout in kids:
- Procrastination. Your kid may be used to having the initiative to start doing his homework right away. However, you have to give endless reminders, and your kid still complains and stalls.
- Apathy. Your kid may seem to stop caring about things. He may just shrug and answer in a few words when asked instead of telling you a story of what happened at school.
- Avoiding situations. Your kid may have loved being in a virtual social skills group, but now he makes up excuses not to attend.
- Anxiety or fear. School has always been hard on your kid. But the concern has become so intense that your child cries when she has too much on her plate and doesn’t know which one to finish first.
- Negativity. Your kid’s positive attitude may diminish. She would say, “What’s the point in doing this?” She would not see the fun in doing her usual activities anymore.
- Trouble concentrating. Your kid can only focus for about 10 minutes before becoming distracted.
- Irritability. Your kid seems to be easily annoyed or upset over little things that weren’t a big deal in the past.
The signs of burnout can be hard to notice at first, but when you start recognizing the symptoms, it can help you make changes at home to prevent it from happening. You can also ask your kid how he feels about what activities she’s doing. Talking about what your child is feeling is an excellent first step toward avoiding burnout.