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Researchers: Too Much School Stress May Make Kids Sick

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Could too much homework become harmful to your child’s health?

As CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported Friday, academic stress is hitting children much earlier in life.

Several Bergen County teens told Carrasco they’re feeling overwhelmed and anxiety ridden due to hours of homework, high demands to get good grades, and ultimately get into college.

This kind of school stress is felt now, more than ever, and earlier among students.

Fourteen-year-old freshman Natalie said she’s already feeling the heavy burden.

“When you get a ton of homework assignments and if you feel that you don’t do all of them perfectly, and you’re not going to get into college your freshman year, it causes you to panic,” she said.

The stress is taking a toll on students, not only emotionally, but physically too.

“Your heart starts beating really fast, you start sweating because you get really nervous like how am I going to get all of this done in time?” Natalie said.

Some students told Carrasco they’re spending hours completing their mounting piles of homework.

“I think at most maybe four hours,” one student said.

“Three hours probably,” another student said.

Which leaves very little time for anything else, including sleep.

“I get home maybe around 6, and I have to stay up until midnight doing this homework assignment and then I’m going to get up at 6 a.m. to do another homework assignment,” Natalie said.

Researchers at Stanford University recently said hitting the books for three or more hours a night won’t necessarily make a child perform better in school, but can make them sick.

Some parents, like Natalie’s, agree with the new research.

“To hear somebody, who’s 14 years old, worry that if she doesn’t turn in an assignment or if she gets an assignment wrong, that’s it, she’s never going to get into the school of her dreams is really frustrating to hear that,” said Lee.

The number of teens seeking therapy to help manage these school stressors is on the rise, Carrasco reported.

“We’re seeing increased pressures to get into college. We have young kids in 9th grade contemplating what they’re going to do with their lives, they don’t know and they’re so overwhelmed with having to make these decisions, not to mention competition,” said Talia Filippelli, of Starr Psychotherapy.

Filippelli said depression, anxiety, moodiness, nervousness, stomach aches, headaches, and exhaustion are the most common effects of school stress.

One of the best ways a parent can help? Manager their own stress levels.

“Parents living these high stress lives don’t realize that their kids are actually mirroring and copying the way they handle stress,” Filippelli said.

Communication and support is also key.

“Rather than responding and rescuing your kids from these feelings, just align with them,” Filippelli suggested.

Filippelli said for children and teens who aren’t able to manage their stress while in school, it may lead to other stress-related illnesses when they get older, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

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