Burned Out at Work? Your Teens May Feel It, Too

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Teens

A study suggests kids get overwhelmed at school as they watch their parents get overwhelmed at work. Credit: Brandy Shaul, Flickr

Like father, like son.

Turns out that may be particularly true when it comes to burnout. If a father or mother is burning out at work, his or her children might be mirroring the same problems at school.

Science Daily reports that a study funded by the Academy of Finland made the first-ever scientific investigation into the link between adult and adolescent burnout.

Odds are you know what it feels like -- the gnawing fatigue and cynicism, the sense of being overwhelmed and inadequate. Whether at school or on the job (or both), most people have felt burned out at one time or another.

Science Daily reports researchers collected school burnout data from 515 high school freshmen and 595 mothers and fathers of these teenagers. The study concluded that burn out is communicable within families.

Parents get it from their kids, and the kids get it from their parents.

"Experiences of burnout were shared most particularly between adolescents and parents of the same gender," Katariina Salmela-Aro, the lead researcher, tells Science Daily.

"The parent of the same gender seems to serve as a role model for the development of burnout," she says.

Salmela-Aro is the research director of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki, as well as a professor at the Academy of Finland's Finnish Center of Excellence on Learning and Motivation Research. The study was conducted as part of the FinEdu project at the center.

Salmela-Aro tells Science Daily burned-out parents may show less interest in their kids and less involvement in their lives. This can have a ripple effect on the kids.

So can money worries.

"The greater the family's financial worries, the higher the level of experienced burnout," Salmela-Aro tells Science Daily. "This is an important result in view of the potential impact of the ongoing recession on the well-being of families and young people."

Researchers also looked at the stress on kids as they undergo changes at school, such as going from middle school to high school. As anyone who has done it can tell you, it's a challenging time that can affect a person's motivation and well-being.

In connection with the study, Science Daily reports that 687 students annually rated their overall feeling about life over four years, starting their freshman year.

Some two-thirds said they were happy with life. This was constant throughout the four years. However, Science Daily reports, about a third of the kids showed shifts in their attitude toward life.

Most of the changes reported occurred during times of transition. Among these kids, about one in five reported a dip in their happiness and well-being. But at the same time, Science Daily reports, roughly the same number reported that things got better once settled into a new routine.

"It's an important result that a successful transition at school is reflected in increased well-being, which in turn predicts higher levels of school engagement later on," Salmela-Aro tells Science Daily.

Related: Managing Job Stress


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