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New generation of ‘Namby-Pamby’ kids about to drop

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So millennial bashing has become a national sport, the avo munching, fedora wearing, non-driving or moving out of home snowflakes that they are, but if you thought that generation was a bit soft wait for the next.

Fifteen years of research by University of Melbourne Professor Michael Bernard and the Australian Council for Educational Research has found even higher rates of anxiety about pretty much everything from the generation about to drop.

Some 130,000 students surveyed shows young people are becoming more stressed and less equipped to cope with the demands of schoolwork.

  • High numbers of students are experiencing social-emotional difficulties: Today, 17% of students have low social and emotional wellbeing
  • Stress is increasing: Today, 49% of students say they are stressed (28% in 2003)
  • Educational under-achievement at an all-time high: Today, 70% of students say they could do better in their schoolwork (61% in 2003)
  • Students are less prepared for success at school: Today, 41% of students say they lack confidence in their ability to cope with difficult schoolwork (24% lacked confidence in 2003)
  • Girls ‘worry’ more than boys: Today, 60% of girls worry a lot about their schoolwork or what others think of them (compared to 44% of boys)
  • Wellbeing does not improve with age: Today, wellbeing decreases as students’ progress through their school years.
  • Parents who matter: Today, students with higher levels of wellbeing have parents who not only love them a lot, but also teach them about emotions, how they can be managed (resilience), how to make friends and how to be confident and persistent
  • Teachers who matter: Today, students with high levels of wellbeing have teachers who not only support them a lot, but also teach them about emotions, how they can be managed (resilience), how to make friends and how to be confident, persistent, organised and work with others.

Since 2003 over 137,000 students enrolled in over 700 Australian primary and secondary schools have completed the Survey of Social-Emotional Well Being developed by Prof Michael Bernard, founder of You Can Do It! Education, published by ACER.

Professor Bernard says, “There appears to be an epidemic of ‘namby-pamby’ kids with poor resilience – as a result of highly anxious parents and the pressure of social media.”

“The attitude of self-acceptance is the core of student wellbeing. It combats the tendency to take things personally, which creates the high levels of depression and anxiety young people today are experiencing.”

“In some schools, problems with resilience, including anxiety management, top the list of concerns – especially in ‘high performing’ schools with parents who tend to over-protect and who communicate extremely high expectations for achievement.

“Some schools catering for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds are making great strides in improving achievement levels by focusing their attention on areas like such as building persistence and work confidence.

“Monitoring wellbeing levels over time is helpful in guiding government policy, designing a school’s wellbeing program and assisting parents and educators to identify and support children in need of special attention.”

“It is simply not possible for a single teacher to positively influence the wellbeing of every student in a school, but when all school staff work together with parents and the wider community to provide a gold-class social and emotional education, the potential of every child can be realised.

“Parents and teachers do a world of good when they act as coaches of young people’s social-emotional development, including not taking too much responsibility for the young person’s welfare and discussing ways they can help the young person manage their emotions.

“We can now identify the level of social-emotional wellbeing individuals and groups of students at a school demonstrate and these findings give us an insight into the very real challenges our children face every day.”


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