While we have focused a lot on the additional stress COVID-19 causes for children currently, it is important to not forget the non-COVID-related school stress. These stressors may seem easy compared to what children have been dealing with during this pandemic, but because of the added stress from COVID it is even more important to reduce the ‘usual’ school stress to help keep our kids happy and healthy.
How much stress is too much?
While we as parents want to see our children succeed, push themselves, and do their best, it is important to monitor how much stress they are dealing with. Especially when high stress situations for students can cause concentration issues, physical and mental health problems, lowered confidence, and can ultimately hurt their grades. Monitor your child’s schoolwork, activity load/schedule, and other responsibilities so you know exactly how much they are dealing with. Communicate with them regularly to see how they are doing and if they express areas of stress and struggle, then, use what you know about your child to gauge if your child needs to modify their workload to reduce stress.
How can you help them avoid or reduce stress?
- Schedule, but don’t over-schedule: Helping your child develop and stick to a schedule can help them feel more in control of what they are doing. However, it is important to make sure every minute of every day is not crammed with activities and expectations. Make sure to schedule family time and time for your child to relax and have a moment to him or herself
- Make time for family and friends: Prioritize these low-stress, happiness-inducing activities whenever possible. These times can allow a child to relax, enjoy themselves, and feel love and supported
- Prioritize obligations: Help your student to determine what responsibilities and activities are the most important to them and schedule accordingly. Perhaps taking all AP classes will be too much for your child in addition to the play they want to participate in or perhaps two fall sports is just too much. Let them know it is alright to let go of certain things and focus on others when necessary.
- Set up a bedtime routine: Sleep is so important for the health of our children and so many kids, especially pre-teens and teens stay up too late to get adequate sleep each night. Set a reasonable routine that gives them time to wind down and relax before bed.
- Help them set SMART goals: Making sure the goals you and your child set are realistic and specific is incredibly important. Make sure they are achievable and not disheartening or discouraging. This can also help you and your child prioritize tasks.
- Be positive! Help your child to now dwell in the negative and the stress, encourage him or her to be positive and look at the bright side!
- Talk to Teachers/Principals/Counselors: These people know your child, see another side of them, and can help you understand how to help them thrive. They can also help support your child during times of stress and they can be another person for your child to talk to.