When Milton resident Dr. Jeannine Jannot began her career working with young children and teens more than two decades ago, the then school psychologist never imagined the number of bright students struggling to meet life and academic challenges would reach an all-time high.
Alarmed by the metro area’s increasing suicide rate, the mother of three had a bird’s-eye view of the growing problem. In her work as a school psychologist, student coach and college instructor, Jannot could see the children and adults with whom she interacted each day were wrestling with fast-paced, high academic expectations, sleep deprivation, stress, anxiety and social media dependency — all of which are key components, she said, that contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle.
“I had an elementary school, middle school and high school kid at home, and I was teaching college; so I had the full spectrum view of what was happening [emotionally and academically] with each age group — and these kids were struggling. The increasing number of suicides, just in our area, was troubling,” she said.
Jannot believes the reason for the mental and emotional strain placed on today’s youth is due, in part, to the cultural shift in expectations. There is an extreme pressure to perform, she said.
“They are being raised in an achievement culture that values data. It matters what your grade is, what your score is, what your ranking is, what your GPA is; and that was not the case 20 years ago,” she said.
In response to what she was seeing, Jannot launched her coaching business and website, The Balanced Student LLC, in 2014 to help students manage stress, improve time management, develop effective study skills and increase productivity, while maintaining healthy mental and physical wellness. Her workshops and customized coaching highlight individual strengths, pinpoint areas of improvement and offer families timesaving tips and strategies for success.
Because a balanced student requires parental support and guidance, she said she also coaches parents. Her coaching provides an opportunity for parents to improve their relationships with their children through calm, effective, honest communication and learn the customary adolescent behavior of a generation that thinks they must give 100 percent all of the time. Parental coaching also involves creating healthy habits and structure and encouraging parents to provide reassurance that their child’s value is not based on personal data.
“As parents, we have to communicate to our children that we value them as people, and not because of the grades or scores that they get or what college they get into,” Jannot said. “We have to let them know that we value their gifts, their creativity, their resilience and their willingness to try and to fail.”
Jannot’s 2019 debut book, “The Disintegrating Student: Super Smart and Falling Apart,” provides a roadmap for parents on the journey to understanding today’s adolescent pressures and lays out strategies to help parents strengthen their children’s success and well-being.
The book details why students are “hitting a wall,” and offers tips and ways to get back on track. By addressing behavioral and cultural influences that ultimately cause kids to feel overwhelmed, Jannot furnishes parents with tools to spotlight attributes and identify problem areas that are hindering their children.
Included in the book are her 77 tips to be productive and well. From identifying procrastination triggers and keeping a master calendar to picking the right place to study and adopting a bedtime routine, Jannot’s tips are helping families communicate better, listen to one another, set reasonable goals, improve time management and productivity, discover non-numerical successes and, ultimately, persevere and maintain balance.