Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

All Teens Under Pressure To Be Above Average

My heart is going out to teens these days, especially in my high-achieving community. It seems school districts and parents alike have lost the sense that “average” is really OK, and in some cases, much healthier than “above average.”

An emotional goal of adolescence is to answer the question “who am I” acquiring self-certainty as opposed to self-consciousness and self-doubt. Most teens approach life expecting to succeed and achieve their goals rather than being paralyzed by feelings of inferiority. On a normal path, adolescents seek out people who inspire them and gradually develop a set of ideals and goals for their future. This is all perfectly normal, and if all goes well, teens become young women and young men who believe they can do whatever they set their minds to and are willing to work hard enough for. This process gets stunted if the expectations set for them are unreasonable.

At a recent school board meeting the district reported that a student with standardized test scores in the district’s 25th percentile (translated: higher scoring than 25% of the other kids) ranks in the 75th percentile when compared to other students in our state and the United States. In fact, our two public high schools are ranked #1 and #4 in the state (out of 1,000 public high schools.). In addition, the mean SAT score for our students is 1920, while the state mean SAT score is 1511 and the national mean is 1509. Well, that is a wake up call!

How on earth did “perfect” become the goal? Why on earth are we pushing our children to be so much above average? How this translates into a teen brain is “whoa, I am working my butt off and am not as bright as 75% of the kids in my school. I will never be able to get into college, I will never amount to anything, I am such a disappointment! What is wrong with me? ”

Well, nothing is wrong with any our teens – and I believe that the problem lies with us – the adults in my community – the schools, the parents, the teachers, and the colleges that are setting the performance bar way too high! Most of us are average when held to norms for most things, but what is important is that we all know we are above average in the hearts of our family and the people who love us!

This post, All Teens Under Pressure To Be Above Average, was originally published on by Nancy Brown, Ph.D..

You may also like these posts

Read comments »

Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »