School can sometimes get very stressful for your child – regardless of their age, the daily events at school can be overwhelming. Having to deal with both academic and social stress at such a young age can be difficult. While stress can be a good thing in terms of motivating children to take their academics seriously and work hard, it can have a negative effect on their health if not dealt with correctly. It could potentially hamper the ability to perform, socialize, make friends, and even cause anxiety in children.
A child alone cannot deal with effectively handling stress on their own – as a parent, you can walk your child through the effective ways they can manage stress. Below we have created a list of five ways you can support your child in dealing with school-related stress:
Talk to them and identify the stressor
If you find your child struggling with grades, missing out on chores, feeling down, being more irritable than usual, and/or skipping meals, it is a sure sign that something is going on and it could be school-related. To effectively help and support them, you should, first of all, spend time talking to them to discover the source of their stress. Is it a particular instructor, class, or subject that is causing them stress? Or is it the burden of an upcoming assignment or test they could use your help with? Identifying the stressor would help you draft a strategy and course of action to support your child. If your child says they don’t feel like going to school, you could talk them into figuring out what aspect of their school is bothering them in hopes of getting them ready for school so that they feel more prepared.
Be patient and just be there
As a parent, it may sometimes be difficult for you to witness your child in distress from afar – you want to do anything and everything you possibly can to eliminate the cause of your child’s troubles. However, sometimes the best course of action is to be patient and resist your urges to interfere in your child’s everyday problems. Instead of walking them through a solution, you could suggest a few coping strategies and watch them fix their problems themselves in their own time. Also, sometimes your child may simply wish for you to be there in silent support rather than actively be involved in problem-solving – if you identify such a wish, let them know you are there for them and if anything changes you’re prepared to help.
Give labels to your child’s feelings
Many children don’t even realize they are experiencing stress – they may brush it off as a bad headache, jitters, or might simply be irritable all day long without realizing the reason behind it. As an adult, it is your responsibility to understand what your child may be going through and walk it through them to help them understand their feelings better. If you notice that a particular event has particularly bothered your child, and yet they haven’t about it, you may voice your opinion about it. For instance, if you are just back from a game of football (that your child didn’t perform very well at) and notice your child is in a bad mood, you may ask them if what happened back on the field might be bothering them. However, be sure that your question should appear empathetic to initiate a discussion, and not appear as an accusation or put them on the spot.
Help your child build a schedule and routine
Scheduling their day and being organized is crucial for your child to avoid stress at school. Perhaps they may be experiencing stress merely because of their inability to manage their time and accommodate all activities expected of them. You can help them build a schedule around their everyday activities which may include school, sports practice, homework, chores, etc. You should be sure to help them prioritize their tasks for the day and also put some time aside for recreational activities or to simply relax during the day. Having a routine would allow your child to plan their day and look forward to something every hour. It might also help ease any school or homework-related anxiety they may be experiencing.
Speak to their teacher or school counselor
Your child’s teachers and school counselors know a great deal about them given that your child spends almost half of their day at school. If you find yourself not figuring out why your child may be acting a certain way, you should consider getting an appointment with their teacher or school counselor to dig deep into the matter. You’d be then able to fully understand how your child is in class and their overall demeanor at school. The teacher or counselor might also be able to help you understand what may be causing your child distress.