Don’t Freak Out, But Chances are Your Child is not going to be an Olympian

olympic rings

Don’t freak out. But chances are your child is not an Olympian. By one estimate only one one millionth of one percent (0.000001560845334%) of people on earth are.

Don’t panic. But she’s not likely to graduate from an Ivy League school either. While the odds are better than being an Olympian, they still come in at about one-third of one percent (0.33%).

Don’t flip out. But she probably won’t get a perfect score on her SAT. Less than 1 percent of kids do.

Don’t get overly anxious. But even making it to the NCAA as an athlete is pretty remote with only 3 to 10 percent of high school seniors who are athletes (depending on the sport) going on to compete in the NCAA.

Don’t lose your mind. But, by definition, 50 percent of all children are at or below the average on any given metric. That’s not mean; it’s just math!

Being exceptional is rare. And my concern is that too many young people (and their parents) think that there is something wrong with them if their achievements aren’t extraordinary.

They believe that they are defective if they aren’t atypical.

Ironic, isn’t it?

It is also sad.

This normalcy-of-exceptionalness mentality is leading to a group of stressed out, unhappy kids.

Do worry. Half of all millennials say their stress keeps them up at night. And a quarter of high school students report feeling “extreme stress.”

Do be concerned. About one in four say that this stress has increased over the past year.

Do feel frightened. Nineteen percent of millennials have been informed they suffer from depression.

Do feel anxious. In a survey of students from high-performing high schools, 70 percent of the students “often or always feel stressed by their school work, and 56 percent reported often or always worrying about such things as grades, tests, and college acceptance.”

Do be alarmed. That same study showed that a quarter of the students reported that they struggle with depression, and 7 percent had recently cut themselves, which people sometimes do to make the emotional pain physical. Another study of two Ivy League universities reports that 20 percent of students are “purposely injuring themselves by cutting, burning, or other methods.”

Do be scared. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among kids ages 10 to 24.

So it is not a shock then that only 31 percent of young adults report that they are very happy.

We need to end the rat race. While we need to encourage our kids to set lofty and ambitious goals, we must remind them that they are enough simply because they are themselves. We need to take the focus off of achievement at all costs and refocus on helping our kids develop strong interpersonal relationships, resiliency and gratitude.

While few of us will have a chance to accomplish something as remarkable as winning an Olympic medal, we all have the opportunity to lead a happy life.