The Top 4 School Stressors and How to Help
In a society that is obsessed with comparison and the need to be the best, students across the country are beginning to experience harmful stress at increasingly younger ages.
As a parent, you need to know how to recognize the signs that your child may be wrestling with stress so that you can help them appropriately address and cope with unhealthy stressors.
As a Christian school, we recognize our responsibility in helping students cope with stress. Dee Bates, IRCS guidance counselor, has a passion for improving student stress loads. “I love helping students work through their personal challenges and seeing them grow to become overcomers of their circumstances, crises, and everyday frustrations,” Bates says. “I love helping them see how God can use each situation to bring students closer to Him and closer to leading a life of excellence.”
Signs of School-Related Stress
It’s important to note that a certain level of stress in and of itself is not a bad thing. Your student should feel an age-appropriate amount of stress because that feeling is what ultimately challenges and pushes them to excel and grow developmentally. ”It is important for parents to allow their teens to work through stressful issues, rather than trying to remove all stress from their lives,” says Bates. However, when multiple stressors pile up, and that age-appropriate stress starts to snowball into harmful stress, your child experiences distress. That’s when problems occur.
Every child responds to harmful stress differently, but here are some red flags to watch for:
- Upset Stomach
- Increased Shyness/Withdrawal
- Recurring Nightmares/Interrupted Sleep Patterns
- Frequently Asking to Stay Home from School
Once you know your child is stressed, it’s time to find out what exactly is causing it.
Top 4 Reasons for School-Related Stress
There are numerous reasons why your child may experience stress. Here a just a few of some of the most common school-related contributing factors.
The Desire to Be Consistently Excellent
Some students, whether it be self-driven or unintentionally inflicted by parents or teachers, feel that they must remain in a constant state of excellence when it comes to school. For example, if your child scored an A on her test and was highly praised for it, she may feel stress that she has to maintain grades of straight A’s in order to feel accomplished or to make you and her teachers proud.
What to do about it?
Remind your student that nobody, yourself included, is ever able to be consistently excellent. Let them know what’s important is that they consistently do their best. School is a journey toward growth, not perfection.
The Need to be Socially Accepted
For many students, stress isn’t derived from the academic aspect of school, but rather the social aspect. If your child is struggling with feelings that he or she doesn’t fit in, everything from group projects to lunchtime can feel a little stressful and overwhelming.
How can you help?
Make sure you let your child know that these feelings of wanting friendships and to be accepted are normal. Talk with them about the best way to make genuine friendships and remind them that a great way to make friends is to first be a friend themselves. Encourage them by letting them know it’s not a numbers game. When it comes to friendship, quality is more important than quantity.
The Pressure of Planning for College
They say high school years are some of the best of your life, but with big decisions about college looming over high schooler’s heads, excitement for what’s to come can easily transform into nerves about pressing college application deadlines and various unknowns.
How can you make the process easier?
Taking time to have a heart-to-heart conversation with your student about their next-step goals, career ambitions, and future-planning can help reduce the stress they are feeling. Good communication helps your student know they aren’t alone during this big time in their life. You can suggest they make a calendar of the important deadlines for the school they wish to attend to help them feel more organized and in control.
The Desire to Be Involved
“Time management is commonly an issue for many students,” says Bates. “They feel pulled in various directions, and need to learn how to prioritize their time. Between Athletics, Digital and Fine Arts, STEM projects, and part-time jobs, our students sometimes need help as they learn how to multi-task and how to manage time effectively.”
How do they learn time management?
Parents are busy too, so lead by example! “The home is much like a ‘training facility’ where parents model and teach how to handle stres,” says Bates. “So when teens are faced with challenges at college or away from home, they are familiar with healthy ways to navigate through the tough times.” Show your children that it’s okay to say no to new commitments and encourage them to do a few things well rather than several things mediocre.
The IRCS Difference
At Indian Rocks Christian School, it’s our intention that students don’t become overwhelmed by school, but rather that they enjoy it, embrace it, and grow from it.
As an overview, IRCS Guidance Counselor, Dee Bates, reminds parents of the things that help with stress:
- obedience to God and parents
- hard work
- wise counsel from other believers
- open and honest communication
- prioritization of time and activities
Would your child thrive in a supportive environment? Download our Parent Info Packet today!
This blog was originally published on October 19, 2016 and updated on November 13, 2019.