It may be surprising to know that many adults wrongly believe that children’s lives are easy and that they lead a relatively stress-free life.
After all, kids are not saddled with bills to pay, relationships to work on and bosses who are all out to make their lives a living hell. By comparison, kids have it easy. Right? Wrong!
Children get stressed out too. In Japan and some countries in Asia, the pressure to get high grades is so high that children actually commit suicide when they do not get the grades that their parents expect from them. In the West, kids get stressed out if they do not fit in with their peers and for many other reasons too.
Sometimes they might be lagging at school and that can make them feel inferior. Or there could be other kids who’re bullying them. Even a household where the parents are bickering non-stop can affect a child emotionally and make him or her stressed and anxious.
Stress is not exclusive to adults alone. In fact, it’s harder on children because they lack the emotional maturity and mental acuity to know how to manage and cope with their stress.
In this article, we’ll look at 4 techniques that parents can use to help their child cope with school stress.
The more you practice these stress management techniques, the higher the chances of your children developing into healthy, emotionally stable adults who don’t freak out or fly off the handle the moment the going gets tough.
1. Ensure They Get Enough Sleep
One of the best ways to cope with stress is to get sufficient sleep so that the body and mind gets time to rest and recuperate. Like they say, “When nothing goes right, go to bed.”
Do not let your child stay up late playing video games or reading or watching TV. Get them to bed daily at a fixed time.
2. Talk To Your Child
One of the biggest reasons children get stressed out is because parents just don’t spend enough time communicating with their kids. If you notice that your child looks sullen, depressed or listless, you can bet that something is bothering them.
If you ask them whether they’re ok and they nonchalantly reply you with a “Yes” but you can feel it in your bones that something is just not right, you’ll need to prod and keep asking.
In some cases, your child may be getting bullied at school and he or she is afraid of telling an adult, much less their parents. There are several cases where students have committed suicide because of bullying and the parents never knew how depressed their kids really were. You have to be alert.
There are so many different scenarios ranging from not being socially accepted by their peers at school to even an adult in authority behaving towards your child in an unsavory manner.
The only way to get to the root of the problem is to keep digging till your child speaks up and tells you what’s wrong. Just telling you how they feel or what’s bothering them can lift a load of their little shoulders and make them feel relief.
3. Tell Them That It’s Ok Not to Be Perfect
Even adults need to be told this and it’s even more important to tell your child to strive for excellence but not aim for perfection. They should aim to work diligently in school as best as they can but not be too hard on themselves if they do not get the grades they want.
Many children take defeat personally and feel like losers if they don’t qualify for the football team or cheerleader team… or whatever other ‘in’ thing that all their friends are going crazy about.
The boy who is a champ in the Math team may feel like an awkward nerd when he sees his classmates in the football team getting all the girls’ attention. He may wish he was tougher and sportier but he knows that he just can’t be. His self-esteem suffers and despite the trophies he wins at the Math tournaments, he still feels ‘useless’ inside.
This is a form of stress too. The wise parent will tell the boy to be positive and focus on his strengths. Let him know that one day, his skills will land him an executive position where he’ll be paid handsomely and women will look at him in a whole new way. It’s all a matter of changing their perception and shoring up their self-esteem.
4. Help and Reward
Sometimes your child may be stressed out because they just do not understand their school work. You’ll need to either help them out with it or get a tutor to help coach them.
It can be depressing when they see their peers forging ahead and getting good grades while they lag behind despite their best efforts. Some children need more time to learn. That’s just the way it is. So, you’ll need to be around to lend a helping hand.
The same applies too other things too. For example, if they’re trying to make the swim team, they may need you to take them to practice. Or the girl who is trying to make the cheerleader team may need her mother to give encouraging words of support when she’s about to go for try outs.
All these little things will greatly help to reduce the stress that kids face in school. Rewarding good behavior or achievements is also a great way to reduce stress.
If your kids get good grades, do reward them. It will not only motivate them to do better but the child will not feel unappreciated.
Far too many parents believe that it’s a child’s duty to get good grades in school and by doing so, the kid is just ‘doing his or her job’ and it’s the norm.
Well, it’s NOT the norm. Even adults get promotions, encouragement and bonuses when they perform well. So, praise your kids and reward them when they excel. The way you talk to your child will become their inner voice. So, be positive and encouraging.
When a child feels good about himself or herself, they’ll not be stressed out. Both emotions are diametrically opposed.
To conclude, STRESS can be described as:
If your child is stressed out, they need your help… and in almost all cases, you’ll definitely be able to help them. So, keep an eye on your children and don’t take their answers at face value if their behavior and actions don’t correlate with what they say
The best way to reduce a child’s stress at school is to have a parent who tells him/her exactly what he/she needs to hear.