Tips for Parents
It's NOT a Contest!
Helping Your Busy Student Put Things in Perspective
Many students are guilty of it at one point or another: holding "I had less sleep than you did" or "I'm SO busy!" contests. This tends to be a particular phenomenon among student leaders. They swap tales of all-nighters, crammed schedules and three-page To Do lists, almost as a badge of honor, to prove that they are in demand and working hard. Yet, this approach isn't good for them. After all, it's NOT a contest!
If your student seems caught up in this type of frenzy, there are a few discussion points you can tap into to help him assess what is really going on. For instance:
- What drives him to do all that he is doing? Interest? Fear of life after college? Competition? An inability to say "no"? By getting deep into the "why" behind his actions, you can help him break it down into a healthier approach.
- What does she enjoy about certain involvements? And does the negative-speak you hear about others (i.e. when she complains about the inefficiency of her student government group) indicate that maybe that's not a healthy use of her time and energy?
- How does he feel valued by others, whether it's you, his siblings, his professors, his advisors or his fellow students? Is he looking for approval or trying to meet perceived expectations?
- What are her reactions when someone else talks about being so busy? Admiration? Thinking that he is showing off? Empathy? Feeling bad for her and offering to help? Help your student examine WHY she might have those reactions.
- Is he "working smart" to manage time and tasks? Maybe he needs assistance with time management to juggle the many things on his plate.
- Does she feel that anything in her life is suffering due to her hectic schedule? Sleep? Grades? Making friends? Time to exercise? Help her look at her life to see what's good and what might be missing.
By addressing this with your busy student before he crashes and burns out, you can help him determine how he wants to spend his time and the healthiest ways to accomplish that. Involvement and experiencing all that college has to offer is wise; acting like you're in a "busy contest" is not. You can help him see the difference.
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