Posts Tagged ‘ competition ’

New Research Examines the Biology of Childhood Anxiety

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Some kids handle the pressures of their young lives–chiefly their abilities to score well on standardized tests in school–while others crumble under the anxiety of the pressure to succeed.  An article in this weekend’s New York Times magazine looks at this fact through the lens of what it can teach us about anxiety and panic in children.  The article chronicles a growing body of research on this question and concludes that though biology plays a role in a child’s ability to manage anxiety, it is far from the only factor in the equation:

An emerging field of research — and a pioneering study from Taiwan — has begun to offer some clues. Like any kind of human behavior, our response to competitive pressure is derived from a complex set of factors — how we were raised, our skills and experience, the hormones that we marinated in as fetuses. There is also a genetic component: One particular gene, referred to as the COMT gene, could to a large degree explain why one child is more prone to be a worrier, while another may be unflappable, or in the memorable phrasing of David Goldman, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health, more of a warrior.

Understanding their propensity to become stressed and how to deal with it can help children compete. Stress turns out to be far more complicated than we’ve assumed, and far more under our control than we imagine. Unlike long-term stress, short-term stress can actually help people perform, and viewing it that way changes its effect. Even for those genetically predisposed to anxiety, the antidote isn’t necessarily less competition — it’s more competition. It just needs to be the right kind.

Read the full New York Times article for details on the new research into childhood anxiety.

Image: Standardized test, via Shutterstock

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Home-Schooled 6-Year-Old Girl Heads to Spelling Bee Championship

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Lori Anne Madison, of Woodbridge, Virginia, has won the right to compete in the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee to be held in Washington, DC on May 29 to June , Fox News reports. Madison is home-schooled, and she reportedly credits her parents with a lot of her spelling bee success.

She told Fox that the bee that won her the slot at the national competition was formidable, since she was competing against middle-schoolers, but that she was up to the task.  “I was confident because I have been in spelling bees with older kids before and I judge them by who they are, not about age,” she said.

Image: Letters, via Shutterstock.

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