“Am I good enough?” “Do I belong here?” “What if they find out I’m not as smart as they think I am?” “I don’t deserve this success.” If you’ve had this kind of self-talk sometime during your life, there’s a good chance you’ve experienced imposter syndrome—even if you didn’t know the name for it at the time. It’s characterized by feelings of not being good enough, not deserving of your successes, and even being a fraud who will be found out by others. Unfortunately, imposter syndrome isn’t just a phenomenon that affects adults. Students—especially high achievers–experience it too. First defined in 1978 in a research article cowritten by Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes, imposter syndrome is considered an internal experience of intellectual phoniness as a reaction to particular stimuli or events. Studies suggest that more than 70 percent of adults experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career and that it equally affects all genders. There is also evidence that feelings of being a fraud may be especially common among people of color who are academics and high achievers. Although there isn’t a lot of data on imposter syndrome in students, a lot of them are speaking up about their fears of failure, being inadequate, and perhaps most heartbreakingly, not belonging in a given setting like an AP® class. Students of color and student-athletes can be especially vulnerable to this negative self-talk. So how do you recognize the signs of imposter syndrome in children? And more importantly, how do you help them overcome their feelings of extreme self-doubt? Start with a casual conversation. As a parent, you probably know that some of the most honest chats with your child happen when you’re driving in the car, sharing a snack, or getting some exercise together. Ways to identify the signs of imposter syndrome Symptoms of burnout and a fear of failure aren’t just grown-up feelings. If students seem less motivated or detached from things that used to inspire them, it could be a red flag. Here are several other signs to consider: Students may show resistance to taking a healthy mental break from schoolwork. Students may overcompensate by doing much more work on a project than is required (g., displaying signs of perfectionism). Students may make excuses for achieving success. For example, if students relate a reward to “luck” or “good timing,” it could be an indicator that they are struggling with imposter syndrome. Similarly, students may deflect praise and not accept compliments due to disbelief in the recognition. A new environment can be stressful even without imposter syndrome, so be on the lookout for indications that students feels like they don’t belong in a specific setting. Tips to help your student overcome imposter syndrome Regulate the pressure that you (and others) put on your student. Chances are that they’re putting a ton of pressure on themselves. Try not to label your student as “the smart one,” “the responsible one,” or “the overachiever.” Instead, recognize positive behaviors that can be praised instead of labeling, like work ethic, perseverance, and attention to detail. Be careful about raising the bar on rewards, which can create more stress. Talk about any feelings related to imposter syndrome that your child may exhibit. Enlist the help of your school counselor or a private therapist to make your student feel supported and less isolated with their negative thoughts. Encourage your student to write a letter to themselves explaining why their success isn’t an accident. Share articles and blogs written by other students about imposter syndrome with your child. Consider an opportunity for your student to mentor others, which can build confidence and be rewarding. Gently encourage your student to accept compliments with a heartfelt “thank you” for a job well done. Means to provide your student with the opportunity to thrive Students are under so much pressure to thrive academically, especially now, as they navigate remote and hybrid learning. Apex Learning Virtual School offers many flexible supports to high-achieving students, including honors and AP® courses, self-paced Tutorials, and a full-time virtual high school to help them find balance in their lives and follow their dreams. Learn more at www.apexlearningvs.com.