9 Tips to help the child manage school stress
Once perceived as an adult’s problem, stress now affects people of almost every age group. The manifestations and problems associated with stress may vary with age and occupation.
The school years are believed to be some of the happiest and enriching phases of life. Nonetheless, school often brings along considerable stress for children as well as their parents or caregivers. The strict time schedules, competition, exams, extra-curricular activities, and the endless cycles of friendships being made and broken may cause a significant impact on young minds.
While school stress may be overwhelming, many times the way you react to the situation is a bigger problem than the situation itself. Everyone knows that no sane decision can be made when the mind is clouded with fear, anxiety, and stress.
Although you may not be able to remove every stressor, you can develop strategies to cope. Here are some ways to help the child manage school stress:
- Build a bridge of trust: Maintain a healthy relationship with your child. Reassure them when they feel insecure. Express your love and concern toward them without suffocating them with overindulgence. Show them that they can always come to you when they need anything, even if it is someone to talk to. Do not judge them or yell at them if they make mistakes. Explain calmly that this is a part of growing up and learning from their mistakes. Let your child find a safe refuge and healthy friendship in you to vent all their queries and concerns.
- Maintain a routine: A disciplined schedule plays a great role in keeping stress away. It helps one stay active during the day while having a restful sleep at night. Maintain regular wake-up and bedtime schedules even on weekends and holidays. Let your child have meals and do homework at a regular time. This creates a sense of responsibility, calmness, and stability.
- Be a good listener: Encourage your child to discuss their thoughts and feelings with you. Do not judge them for their choices or mistakes. If the day has been difficult for them, discuss it with them. Reassure them that you understand their concerns. Tell them that it is all going to be fine. Discuss similar incidents that happened with you. Tell them about the possible solutions to their problems while valuing their inputs.
- Be an attentive observer: To help your child with school stress, you must first identify the signs of stress in them. Look for any changes in their behavior, such as a lack of sleep, unusual appetite changes, or being quieter or more irritable than usual. Some children may show signs, such as thumb-sucking, nail-biting, bed-wetting, or withdrawing socially in response to stress. There may also be physical symptoms, such as frequent headaches, stomachaches, and changes in weight. Do not yell at them or insult them. Patiently discuss with them to know their concerns.
- Limit the screen time: Excessive use of electronic gadgets, such as video games, TVs, phones, and computers, may add to the stress. Disturbing visuals, such as those carrying the news of sufferings, due to the ongoing pandemic may add to your child’s stress and deteriorate their mental wellbeing.
- Physical activity: Try and engage in some physical activity with your child daily. Getting outside the house will help divert your and your child’s mind from the stressors of daily living (walking in the park, swimming, or visiting the zoo). Enroll your child in sports, such as badminton, tennis, cycling, skating, soccer, and so on.
- Foster healthy exercise and eating habits: A healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Make sure your child eats healthy, stays hydrated, and performs sufficient physical activity during the day. Encourage them to participate in the sports they like to maintain mental and physical well-being.
- Motivate them to pursue their hobbies: Hobbies help boost confidence and manage stress in adults and children alike. Let your child spend some time of the day doing what they enjoy. It may be reading, writing, singing, playing a musical instrument, or anything that makes them calm and happy.
- Remember: You can only help your child if you help yourself first. Unless you manage your own stress, it may be difficult to pull your child out of theirs. So have some me time, practice stress-relieving rituals, eat healthy, stay active, avoid smoking, limit alcohol intake, and do not give up on your hobbies.
It is prudent to connect with other parents and your child’s teachers about ways to help your child cope. Most importantly, never hesitate from asking for help when you are overwhelmed. You may discuss your situation with a professional counselor or psychologist if things seem to be too much for you to handle.
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American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Stress Management and Teens. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Helping-Teenagers-With-Stress-066.aspx