Is your child stressed at school? Stress occurs at all ages. Parents need to be mindful that their kids face stress no matter what grade they are in or their unique learning environment.
Children’s worries can sometimes seem trivial to parents, and they disregard them as children’s “typical overreacting.” However, such an attitude can build up stress in children until it ultimately affects their mental and physical well-being.
Parents must provide vital support to their children and help them battle school stress healthily. These are some of the ways that can give you guidance on how to help your child handle school stress.
Typical school-based stressors for kids
Start with identifying what kind of stress your child is facing. Depending on their interests and character traits, they can be affected by different school stressors.
Here are some typical school stressors that your child might be facing:
In the Pew survey of students, academic pressure was rated as the number one stressor, with 61% of students claiming that they face a lot of pressure to get good grades.
The need to reach academic success can come from the desire to prove themselves, get parents’ approval, or worry about their future. They can also feel anxiety over grades and challenging coursework.
Fitting in is a worry that most children have. If they don’t fit in or feel like they are different from their peers, that can be a huge stressor.
A serious social stressor is bullying. If overlooked, it can lead to severe consequences. Children can also feel the pressure to balance social life and school obligations. Or, they might have some relationship troubles.
Children can experience anxiety and depression, and they can often hide it well from their family.
Anxiety and depression are especially common among teenagers. One study found that 70% of teens said that anxiety and depression are major problems among their peers. With social media and its focus on “perfect lives and appearance,” those numbers can only increase.
How parents can help kids navigate stress
For many, their devotion to their children is so intense that they would, without any hesitation, take on themselves every worry that their child has. Unfortunately, that is impossible.
However, that doesn’t mean that there is nothing you can do to help.
The issue is that children, especially teenagers, tend to build a wall around them. To break that wall and get close enough to help them, you have to take the right approach. These are some useful methods that you can give a try.
1. Be aware of changes in mood or behavior
No one knows your child better than you. As they grow from youngsters to school kids to teenagers, they will change. However, you shouldn’t dismiss a notable change in their mood or behavior by dismissing it to growing up.
Some signs that can signal a high-level of school stress are:
- Decreased appetite before tests or other changes in their everyday eating habits
- Aggressive objection to going to school
- Inability to control emotions
- Sudden distancing from family
- Objecting to share anything school-related
2. Listen, listen, listen
Keep lines of communication open and pay close attention to what they are saying. They probably won’t come to you directly and say, “Mom/Dad, I’m depressed.” But if you start noticing that they often speak about how “life is horrible,” and if their words exude with negativity, it’s a clear signal that something is wrong.
A child psychologist and contributor writer at TrustMyPaper, Jarred Partridge, advises, “Whenever your child approaches you and wants to talk, take that opportunity. Listen carefully and calmly, and don’t interrupt them until they are finished. Otherwise, they can close up once again.”
3. Be open and vulnerable with them
Have a frank discussion about stress and assure them it is normal to feel that way. Stress can be a completely new feeling, and children can feel bad because of it.
Explain to your children that everyone feels stressed from time to time and that there are good and bad stress types. They should be aware that whatever stresses them at school now will pass eventually.
4. Model effective stress-reducing behaviors
Healthy habits have a positive effect on mental health. For instance, exercises helps with increased self-esteem and cognitive skills. “Exercise also releases endorphins, which correlates to a happy child,” said Len Saunders for Healthline. He is a physical health educator and author of Keeping Kids Fit and Buddy and Bea.
You should encourage your child to eat well, exercise, and welcome relaxation methods in their life, like hiking with the family or reading their favorite books. Start encouraging them to take on these habits when they are young – it will carry over as they grow older.
5. Acknowledge Their Stress
Don’t ever downplay stressors, no matter how small they appear to you. Put yourself on the mission to help your child whatever the problem is.
For example, if they are struggling academically, help them with studying, or hire a tutor. If you notice or suspect that they are depressed or consistently anxious, take them to a psychologist. In some cases, children will need professional help to battle with such states of mind.
Parents play a critical role in helping children who experience school-related stress. While they cannot remove those stressors, they can put into place methods to help them deal with it.
Not only will this help your child battle stress and live a happier life, but it will also teach them how to handle stress in the future. The actions you take today against the enemy, known as school stress, can alter your child’s mindset and serve them well when facing college stress or work stress.
About the Author: Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a contributing writer at GrabMyEssay. You can find her on Facebook.