09/23/2013 03:27 pm ET Updated Nov 23, 2013

Everybody Breathe, Take a Step Back and Relax

Years and years of pressure on teens takes its toll, and it's something I see every day in my clients. Parents, teachers, peers and society push teenagers for perfection in school, their appearance and in extracurriculars, and it's counterproductive.

Advanced math classes, advanced language courses, advanced this and that; this shouldn't be the focus of education from birth to the teenage years. It puts way too much pressure on the student, which is detrimental to their mental health and overall well-being.

Relax. There is still plenty of time for students to gain the skills they need for college once they have survived middle school.

Many students feel their future is jeopardized by a single bad choice; one bad grade, one tardy, one missed assignment.

I had a client tell me, "If I flunk, it's over." What's over? Life? Your success as a human?

I worked with this young client to help him come up with his own definition of success, one that is based on moving forward through life experiences instead of being consumed by pressure.

Surviving the experience and learning as much as he could was in itself a success, regardless of how well he scores. He began looking at success in a completely different way. He started thinking about his ability to overcome challenges rather than his ability to score well.

Some students begin their education as bright enthusiastic learners, but as life sets in during the elementary and middle school years, some are overcome by the pressure. The joy of learning and achieving is drowned by the flood of expectations. Some of these students never recover their motivation. It's a shame and a loss that could be avoided.

Learning is not limited to test scores and grades, you know? All this running around to achieve high marks is misplaced effort.

Learning happens every day, all around us. We learn from our role models; our parents, our family, our friends, our mentors and our communities. We learn from our experiences and from all that we're exposed to. We learn from travel and social interaction. This real-life education is more important than what's taught at school.

The sooner we all calm down and recognize this, the better off the younger generation will be and they will ultimately become more confident, stronger individuals and healthier members of society.

So take a deep breath. And let your children breathe a little too. They need it.