Of Note: Imperfecting a Generation


Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls by Lisa Damour
Ballantine Book, February 12, 2019

"There has never been a more academically impressive generation of girls than the young women we are raising today," says clinical psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour in Under Pressure: Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls. Nor has there ever been a more stressed generation of young women: "A staggering 31 percent of girls and young women experience symptoms of anxiety compared to 13 percent of boys and young men." Despite that fact, Damour argues that stress and anxiety are necessary for achievement, and that girls can learn to manage them both. Damour calls on parents and teachers to seek ways to help girls differentiate among types of stress (life events, daily hassles, and chronic stress); identify what stresses them individually; and take steps to cope with the waves of worry that come with striving and caring about success. Damour paints a positive and empathetic portrait of today's pressured girls and reminds the adults in their lives "to frame the demands of education in positive, capacity-building terms, because doing so actually changes how our daughters experience school." Teachers and parents alike can be cautious about the ways in which they implicitly or explicitly praise girls for being overprepared, perfect, or compliant at school. Damour posits that actually conditioning girls to stress - helping them to understand what stresses them and why - and then strengthening them so that they can handle the "weight" they pick up, will serve them better than agreeing with them that they can't handle the challenges they face.

Submitted By: Jessica Flaxman, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

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