Going back to school can be stressful for the whole family. Now that school is back in session, your children are currently confronting a myriad of changes that could impact their emotional well-being, and it’s common for them to feel stressed by the different academic and social pressures that school can bring.
It’s hard for some of us to remember, but a new school year comes with a whole host of unknowns – from new teachers and trends to new subjects and workloads. All of this can be overwhelming as students adjust to a new semester. Excessive stress could affect your child’s behavior and performance in school, and effectively coping with the resulting anxiety is an important skill to teach your child to ensure they thrive this year and in the future. And no matter how calm and collected your child may seem on the outside, there’s a pretty good chance he or she may be stressed out by school: According to various studies and polls, as many as 40 percent of students experience school-related stress.
The first step parents should take to help children manage stress is to target its source. Is your son worried about the dreaded timed math tests? Did your daughter’s best friend transfer to another school? Children are not always conscious of or open to explaining the root of their stress, so this can be a difficult step for parents.
Workload is often the source of stress for many students returning back to school. Helping your child manage homework and studying, and ensuring he or she is able to balance exercise, friends and family time with schoolwork and extracurricular activities, is an important part to keeping your child’s stress levels down. To do this effectively, it’s important to communicate with your child and encourage him or her to be open and honest about what’s stressing them out. Let your child know that the source of worry is normal and even common, not something to stress about even more.
You can also help out your child by establishing routines, which offer familiarity and consistency that can make tasks less stressful. Establishing a routine that includes a regular bed-time, wake-up time, homework time, and activity time can help create balance in your child’s life. Routines also teach children important time management skills and give them a sense of security that can alleviate stresses in different aspects of their lives.
You may be shocked to hear it, but sometimes parents want to help their child relieve stress so badly, they become a source of stress themselves. Many parents take the steps to try to help their children better manage time and establish a routine, but in doing so, they do not convey an understanding of the pressure or demands their child feels. Listening to your child and considering his or her schedule, concerns and workload will put you in a better position to teach good coping habits.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement – and stress – of school, but don’t forget to spend quality time with your student. The school year is a busy time, but it’s as important as ever to set aside time for simply enjoying each other’s company. Making family time a regular occurrence gives children more opportunities to de-stress and provides parents with more opportunities to learn about and resolve any problems that might be causing this anxiety. Doing fun activities as a family gives children and parents the time to decompress form the hectic week and enjoy the beautiful Orange County autumn.