My son stresses over getting A’s at school…Should I be worried?

As I read last week’s blog Education week and Mental Health week: I see the connection, I feel Paula’s struggles with her young daughter and the stress she has about school.

This reminds me of a documentary I recently watched with a group of about 25 other parents. It was called Race to Nowhere. Here’s the trailer:

After we watched the film, each of us introduced ourselves, stated the ages of our kids and our key parenting concerns. It was actually reassuring to hear that I was not alone with my thoughts. We were all worried about the many stressors kids face today, including school and over scheduling them with extra-curricular activities. We were all there looking for answers on what is best & how to manage this.

One key message that really hit home for me was when the people in the film talked about how hard it is for students to maintain their A averages as they move through school. It gets harder and harder as they enter high school. And unfortunately some students associate their self-worth and identity with their grade point average. This can be disastrous as school gets tougher and the grades start to go down, so does their self-esteem… causing stress, anxiety and depression. This scared me to the core as my son is not satisfied unless it’s an A!

Being a public health nurse working with the school years program, I am aware that most depressive symptoms start at approximately age 12 and peak between the ages of 15 and 17. Research shows that one in five Ontarians under the age of 17 has a mental health disorder causing significant distress and impairing day to day functioning. (Read more about our Halton kids survey results in the Our Kids Network Report Card)

So that evening, as the sun was shining, the conversation flowed at the dinner table. We are no longer running off to hockey and actually have time to eat and chat together. We had a heart to heart with the kids. My husband and I reassured our son that as he enters grade 7 next year, it will be harder to keep getting As… And that’s o.k.!

What are some of the stresses you are seeing in your kids as they transition to the teen years? Share with us the strategies that have helped…

Read Cynthia’s Bio

For more tips and hints about preparing for an emergency, or to share your experience, there are many ways you can talk to one of us directly:

  • Leave us a comment below – we’d love your feedback
  • Talk to us on Twitter: @haltonparents
  • Email us at
  • Call the HaltonParents line for parenting information or to speak directly to a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) Simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About Cynthia Lindsay RN

Hi everyone. My name is Cynthia Lindsay and I work as a public health nurse with the school years program. I've been a nurse for over 20 years (wow time flies!) with the last 13 years focused on what I've discovered to be my passion... Parenting. I now have many parenting accreditations and enjoy connecting with parents in the community through Triple P, parenting groups & social media. "Je parle aussi le français" and I love working, making connections, and raising my 2 teens with my hubby in Halton.
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8 Responses to My son stresses over getting A’s at school…Should I be worried?

  1. Paula D'Orazio says:

    Wow, how I love a blog that makes me feel “normal” (as if there’s any such thing). Thanks for validating my feelings, Cynthia. 🙂

  2. cew41 says:

    As parents how can we encourage change to this ideology and external pressures?

  3. Cynthia Lindsay says:

    cew41… Isn’t this the million dollar question? As parents, we need to be leaders…
    Kids need to know they’re not defined by what they do. They need time to play, experiment, rest and figure out who they are. As parents, we’ve got to get over our anxiety that we’re not doing enough. Creating a sense of safety, helping kids have confidence to try certain things, those are the things that matter. Source:

  4. Janet Siverns says:

    I forwarded your blog to my daughter, a Grade six/seven English teacher, and she has posted the link to the Race to Nowhere trailer on her school’s teacher discussion board. Let’s keep the conversation going.

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