How to Help Your Kid Cope With Academic Stress

How to Help Your Kid Cope With Academic Stress

stressAdults often think of childhood as being full of carefree days, but not all kids experience it this way. Academic stress can be a source of major problems for some children and completely debilitating for others. As a parent, you should strive to help you child learn coping strategies for dealing with test and homework stress.

Name the Problem

Many children dealing with stress don’t even know what’s happening to them. They may just think it’s a headache or that they “hate school.” This is especially true for young children. Help your child by teaching them the word stress and what it means to feel stressed. You might point out the times that you feel stress or offer emotional support by saying, “You seem to be stressed about the upcoming test.” Let your child know that you are there for her.

Check Your Attitude

Children pick up on the attitudes of their parents. It’s natural to want your child to do well in school, but your child should also know that you’ll love him just as much if he doesn’t get straight As. Praise the effort your child puts into his studies rather than good grades on the report cards.

Teach Time Management Skills

Sometimes, academic stress stems from a child’s inability to study and manage time effectively. A child will feel more stressed if she’s writing a paper the night before it’s due or trying to cram for a final exam after neglecting studies throughout the year. Allocating time for each thing she has to do may not come naturally. Teach your child to break large projects into smaller chunks, and that it’s better to spend a small amount of time each day than to spend a large amount of time before the due date.

Create Down Time

Your child needs to have his down time and you need to make sure that he gets it. For example, to deal with homework stress, try making a homework schedule. Your child might feel better about starting homework right after school so that he has the rest of the day to do the things he wants. Alternatively, he might need a good break after school and prefer doing his homework after dinner. Make sure that his “relaxing time” is preserved.

Step In

Sometimes, a child requires her parent to step in and make some important decisions. For example, if her time seems too stretched because she’s trying to balance her academic work with too many extracurriculars, you might need to press her to make a choice and drop one or two. If a younger child is being sent home with too much homework, you might talk to the teacher about reducing the workload. If text anxiety is the problem, choose to opt your child out of the standardized tests. Stand up for your child and support her in making the decisions that are the best for her mental health.

A small amount of stress is normal, and learning to deal with that stress can set a child up for success throughout his life. Unfortunately, handling stress isn’t an innate skill for everyone. Parents really need to understand their children and help teach them the coping skills they’ll need to be successful.