Stress is a common problem of the current generation, and the sad part is that just like adults, kids also struggle with stress. Several reasons can cause stress, such as too many commitments, problems with peers, conflict in families, bullying, the pressure of homework, test anxiety, etc.
According to a recent NPR poll, many parents said that their kids were under a lot of school stress. Confused if your kid is really stressed out or is it just his/her normal mood swings? Here are some symptoms:
- Your kid will be irritable
- Cry more
- Withdraw from different activities
- Express uncertainty
- Have negative self-talk
- Will have changes in behavior and mood
- May complain about stomachaches and headaches
- May have changes in sleep and appetite
- May have problems getting ready for school or may even refuse to go
If you notice all or some of these things common in your child, he/she is certainly dealing with school stress, here are some ways you can help him/her cope with it:
Making time for play is as essential as your child’s education. You can combine play with physical activity, which is also critical for well-being. Following are a few activities that you can let your kids do:
- Bike riding
Talk to your kid
If you find out that your kid is stressed or being bullied, the best thing you can do is open the lines of communication and ask him/her about the challenges he/she faces at the school. Older kids hide their problems because they are shy, but talking to them as a friend would surely help them speak.
Make sleep a priority
Because of social media and smartphones, kids don’t sleep all night, which also causes stress. A Good Night’s Sleep is essential for everything from reducing stress to boosting mood to enhancing school performance. If your child is not sleeping enough, it can cause sleep depreciation and other problems.
You should promote the importance of sleep and create a positive environment that facilitates it. For example, you can remove the TV and other electronics out of your kid’s bedroom, so they don’t have any distraction when they are in bed trying to sleep.
Relaxation is vital when dealing with stress. You can do deep breathing, think positively, and do progressive muscle relaxation exercises along with your kid. These are proven ways to help reduce stress in kids as well.
Connecting with relevant people can help too. You can talk to school staff and other parents about their observations of your kid in order to keep the right track of how he/she is performing in school and handling school tasks.
You can learn a lot about your child by just meeting with his/her teacher(s) on a weekly basis.
Technology, including smartphones, social media, computers, and gaming consoles are the things that your kids spend their day using, which might increase stress. You should put a limit on his/her tech time and spend more time with your family as an active member.
Talking negatively and always criticizing your kid can create fear. Even if you disagree with him/her, you should avoid talking negatively about anything. They are already feeling stress, and criticizing them will only make the situation worse. You should be the calming force to help reduce their stress.
Over-scheduling becomes a source of stress and anxiety. If you have a structured schedule, it will help keep your school-going children focused and on track. Between stressful activities like homework, time spent in class, and exams, there should be downtime in which your kid can do whatever he or she likes.
Prepare your kids to deal with mistakes with confidence
One of the significant reasons for stress is the fear of making mistakes in school (in most cases). You should remind them that it is completely okay to make mistakes in this age and they are not supposed to know how to do everything or do everything the right way.
One can only learn when he/she tries, and it is fine to make mistakes on the way.
Get involved in their extracurricular activities
Signing up your kid for extracurricular activities will allow him/her to take a break from that boring, stressful routine and get everything done with a fresh mind later on. Regular work without a break would just burn your kid out. Make sure to sign him or her in an extracurricular activity according to his/her liking.
Set goals that are achievable
Setting goals or expectations too high can ultimately lead to extra stress, especially for school kids. Make sure that you only set achievable goals that are smaller and realistic so your child can achieve them easily without stressing himself or herself out. Achievable goals do not just reduce stress but also boost academic performance.
For example, if you find your child struggling with his/her studies, you shouldn’t ask him or her to aim for A+, instead help him/her achieve better grades than the previous report. This is a slow process, but it can provide great results.
Encourage your kid to express his/her anxiety
It is perfectly fine to get stressed out due to academic performance, but he/she should be expressive. If your kid says that he or she is worried or scared of anything in school, don’t just scold him/her and say that “No, you are not!”. Instead, talk to him or her and ask “what are you worried about?” or “What scares you?” – Doing so will make your kid realize that you really care for him/her, and he/she can be open with you without any problem.
Reward your child on his/her brave behaviors
If your child can face his or her fears, you should encourage him/her by rewarding with praise, a hug, or something that he likes the most, such as a sticker or a small treat. Rewarding for doing positive things is not bribery; it just motivates kids to that more often – In this case, fight their fears no matter what.
Childhood and teenage is the age where a child faces lots of hardships and new stuff that might be too complex or different for him/her. Most school-going children have the stress of something, whether it is homework, exams, or bullying. However, you should first improve your home organization because home is the place where your child can feel comfortable and if it is not well organized, he/she will feel more stressed.