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Special Report - Student Stress Starts Early

WebMD Feature

Student Stress Starts Early
The Problem: PrematurePressure by Parents, Peers

Call it pressure. Call it great expectations. Whatever its name the result is the same: school stress.

By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Medical News

It starts as soon as kindergarten. It turns play into competitive sport. It turns the joy of learning into a struggle to excel. It turns friends into social connections and charitable acts into a line on a resume.

In his 31 years of teaching, Richard L. Hall, PhD, has never seen a more stressful time. Hall is assistant headmaster of Atlanta's Lovett School, which enrolls some 1,500 students from pre-kindergarten through high school.

"It can be overwhelming," Hall tells WebMD. "Students are put in a position of feeling they just must not stop. They are not given a sense of support. They are put in an environment where they are not accepted for themselves but only for what they are going to achieve. All this builds stress."

Stress and Distress

Stress itself is not a bad thing, says child psychologist Brenda Bryant, PhD, professor of human development at University of California, Davis.