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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Could A Growth Mindset Help Teens Cope With Stress?

From KQED's Blog "Mind/Shift"
How we will learn.

October 3, 2016

High school is a big transition for many students. Not only are they juggling many classes and extracurricular activities, but social pressures increase as well. For many teenagers the stress piles up, leading to depression, anxiety and sleep loss.

The pressure to do well, get into a good college, and succeed in life is a big burden for many, but psychology professor David S. Yeager is hopeful that mindset interventions could help teens become more resilient to the stress.

In a New York Times article, Jan Hoffman describes two of Yeager’s recent studies and how small shifts in the way young people think about their own abilities could make a big difference. Hoffman writes:

“His latest study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found a surprisingly effective technique. At the beginning of the school year, students participated in a reading and writing exercise intended to instill a basic, almost banal message to help them manage tension: People can change.

The students who completed the exercise subsequently had lower levels of stress, reported more confidence in coping and achieved slightly higher grades at year’s end, compared to a control group. These results were measured through the students’ self-reporting in online diaries and through cardiovascular and hormone measurements.”

Subtle reminders that the world will not always feel as overwhelming as it does in the middle of a stressful period could help students weather those difficult patches.

Teaching Teenagers to Cope with Social Stress

John R. Weisz, a psychology professor at Harvard who was not involved in the research, found the approach efficient and powerful. “If you’re an adolescent and you experience social harm, it’s not fixed that you will always be a target. You can change,” he said. “And over time, others can change, too.

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