Helping Kids Navigate Academic Stress

In a Pew Research survey, 61% of teens say academic pressure is the greatest stressor in their lives.

Now more than ever, students are pressured to excel in their education. The drive to succeed may be good to an extent, but it can also lead to an insatiable desire for perfection where a B can be devastating. The stress only grows worse the more that mindset is internalized.

Today’s students are well-aware of how stress is affecting them and their colleagues. For the past seven years, anxiety has been the number one cause for students seeking mental health services.

Some stress is a good thing. It can motivate students and drive them to succeed. Too much stress can have negative short-term and long-term effects.

Some of the short-term effects of academic stress include: muscle tension, rapid breathing, increase in adrenaline, fatigue, stomach pain or nausea. Long-term effects of stress include: migraines, difficulty absorbing oxygen, panic attacks, increased risk of hypertension, stroke, heart attack, acid reflux and digestive issues.

As a parent, there are ways to encourage academic excellence without putting too much pressure on kids. Here’s how you can get an A+ in fostering a positive academic experience:

  • Encourage your child to ask for help when they need it, but don’t let them think they’re a burden for doing so. A simple “I know it’s hard and I’m glad that you’re trying your best,” can go a long way.
  • Help them get excited about extracurriculars, but don’t overdo it. Extracurriculars are a great opportunity to find a passion or hobby and get some extra education in the process, but overcommitting can lead to extra stress and negative mental health impacts.
  • If your son or daughter is struggling, offer to get them the help they need and don’t dwell on difficulties. A bad grade can bring embarrassment on its own and no child wants to feel extra pressure at home because of it.
  • If you see your child is stressed, teach them how to cope using healthy habits. A huge part of easing stress is learning how to balance mindfulness with physical health.
  • Allow your kids to take a break. Whether it be an afternoon outside or a morning to sleep in, having the ability to rest and recharge will help to ease stress.

Remember that school is meant to challenge students and they can always use support along the way.

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Photo credit: Skynesher

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