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School Burnout in Children with Learning and Thinking Differences

Children with ADHD and learning differences are more prone to experiencing burnout compared to their peers. This heightened risk stems from the perpetual stress triggered by their unique challenges. Explore further insights and discover strategies to provide support.

When adults endure persistent work-related stress without respite, they eventually succumb to burnout. Similarly, children, especially those struggling to cope with learning disparities and ADHD, can experience burnout amidst the demands of school.

Burnout manifests as a state of complete exhaustion resulting from relentless stress. For children with diverse learning styles, the stressors encountered in school can be ceaseless.

They often exert more effort than their peers to enhance skills and maintain pace academically. Social difficulties and frequent encounters with bullying exacerbate their challenges.

One key point to note is that many children make a real effort to conceal their struggles, amplifying their stress levels.

How Can We Intervene?

As a parent, educator, or caregiver, it's crucial to address behaviors, create a positive home learning environment, and nurture everyday skills. While some children may initially cope with pressure, eventually signs of burnout emerge.

Burnout takes its toll on children, dampening their motivation to tackle challenges and diminishing their enthusiasm for embracing new or demanding tasks.

Identifying the Root Causes of School Burnout

Given that burnout stems from excessive stress, pinpointing its sources is paramount. Here are some prevalent contributing factors:

Academic Stressors

  • Children may expend greater effort or time compared to peers to fulfill academic requirements.

  • They might have to juggle additional instruction or therapy sessions amid their already packed schedules.

  • Those trying to cope with attention deficits face an uphill battle to maintain focucus, often spending prolonged periods on tasks with minimal progress.

Emotional Stressors

Children cannot alter or "switch off" their differences, which they perceive as profoundly unjust.

  • Setbacks, negative feedback, and the sense of being different can dent self-esteem and magnify the perceived difficulty of tasks.

  • Having experienced failure, children may harbor heightened anxiety about their performance, compounding their stress.

Social Stressors

  • Children may feel pressured not to disappoint the supportive figures in their lives.

  • Their peers might struggle to empathize with their experiences, fostering feelings of isolation or loneliness.

  • Children with learning disparities are more susceptible to bullying, intensifying their anxiety and instilling fear.

  • Navigating social interactions may prove challenging, adding significant strain.

Preventing School Burnout in Your Child

For many children, stress extends beyond school hours. Participation in afterschool clubs and activities coupled with social pressures, or attending therapy sessions, can be draining. Additionally, homework adds to their burden.

To avoid burnout, it's vital to gauge your child's stress levels regularly. However, children might not always articulate their experiences or emotions. It’s really important to maintain open communication with teachers and any therapists involved in your child's education.

Assess how effectively your child copes with workload and stress and collaborate to alleviate pressure. Sometimes, burnout intertwines with anxiety or depression. In such cases, consulting your child's healthcare provider is advisable.

When the effects take their toll, it may mean a long wait for help from CAMHS, therefore getting the knowledge and skills to help the situation improve now, rather than wait until it gets worse, can be really helpful. For you, and your child.

Parents often think that professionals have all the answers and can ‘fix’ problems that arise in children, particularly when they are related to mental health. It is important that we recognize that parents are the key determinants of positive outcomes for their children.

The more you can do as the primary caregiver, the more you can improve the health of your child.


A parent who had some help from our family coach tells us how they benefited from a new approach...

"I cannot emphasise enough how much the support from the SLCo family coach has transformed our lives. As a single parent juggling work and multiple children, finding time to address my child's stress and burnout seemed daunting. The strategies and measures suggested by the coach were not only practical but also tailored to fit into our busy schedule seamlessly. With their guidance, I learned how to assess my child's stress levels effectively and implement preventive measures to combat burnout. This has significantly reduced the overwhelm in our household and improved my child's well-being. I feel more empowered as a parent knowing that I have the tools to support my child's mental health, thanks to the invaluable assistance from the SLCo family coach." 


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