How to Combat Students’ Stress
With homework, school expectations, and testing, students’ stress is now higher than ever—especially within the millennial generation.
A recent survey from the American Psychological Association found that 45 percent of teens are stressed by school pressures. Teens are especially under increased stress from homework, graduation, and the pressure to take rigorous courses and engage in school activities to transition to a competitive college.
But younger students are stressed, too. According to a survey by Harvard School of Public Health, “22 percent parents of children in grades K–5 reported that their child had a lot of stress.”
While some stress is temporary, chronic or more severe stress may lead to more serious problems, such as:
- Headaches or migraines
- Difficulty sleeping
- Upset stomach
- Weight loss
- Trouble focusing
- Irritability, anger
- Shutting down, withdrawal
What parents can do
Parents can take an active role in helping their child combat and reduce stress. Practical strategies include:
- Being thoughtful about expectations, demands, and schedules. One child may thrive with a full schedule of activities while another quickly becomes overwhelmed.
- Teaching kids how to learn from their mistakes and telling them it’s OK to fail. Focus on growth and how to handle setbacks rather than the actual success or failure.
- Asking them open-ended questions, validating their feelings, recognizing that a particular situation is hard, and letting them know you really hear them and their angst.
- Encouraging your child to identify and practice healthy coping skills. It may be taking a walk, mindfulness meditation, yoga, journaling, drawing, singing—the list is endless.
- Seeking professional help when needed. Parents should be concerned if stress becomes overwhelming or begins to interfere with a child’s daily functioning. A trained mental health provider or school counselor may be able to help students identify triggers and develop skills for managing and responding to stress.
For teens, the pressure of preparing college is particularly overwhelming. Check out these 8 tips to combat the stress of applying to college.
You can also read some tips about how to reduce anxiety on AP exams.
Laurel Barrette is the director of school counseling programs with K12. She has worked as a certified teacher and counselor in virtual and brick-and-mortar settings at the middle and high school levels in California, Arizona, and Virginia. In addition, she has worked in residential treatment with at-risk adolescents. Barrette has presented nationally on virtual school counseling and bullying and works with K12 schools across the U.S. on program development. She's also the mother of three boys, ranging in age from elementary school to college.