Teens & the Duck SyndromeThe “Duck Syndrome” is a term coined by Stanford University and seems to be running rampant at many colleges (and from my research) in many high schools as well.

What is the Duck Syndrome? Well, think of a duck gliding along the water. She looks very serene, calm and pleasant. Then, if you look under the water, she is paddling frantically.

That is the Duck Syndrome — too many students on the outside appear calm, cool, and collected while on the inside they are completely stressed out. It’s a “fake it till you make it” mentality. For many, they want to be the great student, the great athlete, and well-liked by peers.

But what price do they pay?

Proving you can do it all has transformed into an ugly state of unattainable expectations and extremes, which are unhealthy for teens at any age. I’ve seen this further progress into eating disorders for the perfect body and drug addictions to manage the high pace and stress. This is a recipe for disaster.

I believe high school is where this syndrome starts to percolate. Many of the teens who suffer from the Duck Syndrome in college were “big fish in a small pond” at their high schools. Most want to maintain that persona, and to be popular these days means that you can do it all. I see high school students staying up until ridiculously late hours doing homework, always wanting the A, playing on one if not two sports teams, and expecting to go out every weekend to party.

All this can lead to anxiety, depression, and unhealthy habits. When they get to college, which could have 12,000 to 20,000 students, being a big fish is not so easy anymore. The stakes get higher. During college, the classes (typically) are more difficult, with more homework, papers and tests. If students see their peers staying out late and still getting good grades, they feel the peer pressure to attain the same and compete with the best students in popularity and perfection.

All the while, they fail to realize that they probably all are victims of the same syndrome and that the cycle never ends.

We need to teach our teens that setting limits for themselves never means failure. It means a healthy and happy life with realistic and attainable goals. Parents are the best role models for teens to see this in action — because paddling frantically is literally for the birds.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 0 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.


    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Sep 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

APA Reference
Langlois, D. (2013). Teens & the Duck Syndrome. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 25, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/09/19/teens-the-duck-syndrome/

 

Family &
Parenting



Recommended Books

  • Tending the Family Heart
  • Connecting Your Family in Disconnecting Times, a parenting e-book by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.
  •  
  • Purchase Child Psychology and Development for Dummies now!
  • by Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D.
  •  


Latest Articles


Recent Comments
  • dave: absoloute rubbish so outdated,my addictive behaviour ran deep for thirty five years and used to class myself as...
  • Thea: Not only are conditions dramatically different from place to place (fresh air? wifi? bowling? really?), but...
  • Kathryn: I enjoyed your article so much. I was in the midst of a panic attack when I found the article and it helped...
  • fish65: I guess this site is for men to. I have been married for 45 years my wife is very I’ll and confined to...
  • Nada: Thank you Therese for your terrific piece on the urge to “sneeze”! I’ve had the urge a few...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 9782
Join Us Now!