That dreaded time of year is fast approaching. You know the one. As the school semester winds down, your kids are in a whirlwind of never-ending projects and exams. As soon as one paper gets turned in, they are hard at work on the next. You start to worry about the amount of sleep they’re getting, if they’re feeling overwhelmed, and if other aspects of their lives are getting overtaken by the academic onslaught.
At the end of the day, you’re proud of your students’ successes. You recognize that to excel in school they have to put in some hard work. However, the last thing you want is for this hard work to jeopardize their happiness. After all, our culture rewards productivity and often sweeps discussions about mental well-being under the proverbial rug. So, how can you help your teens stay stress-free as they work towards that glowing report card?
According to a survey by USA Today, the number of students who experience “extreme stress” more than doubles during the school year, versus in the summer. As a parent, you can step in and make sure mental health is a priority this exam season. Here’s how —
Recognize your teen as more than a student.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adolescents spend an average of seven hours each weekday (and an hour each weekend day) on their education. It’s easy to see how they might define themselves as a student and little else. But your child is a complex human being with principles and goals. They are sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. They could be voracious readers, dancers, pizza aficionados, skilled soccer players, babysitters–the list of possibilities goes on and on. Whittling them down to a single facet of themselves places tremendous pressure on that one aspect. However, taking time to celebrate their strengths and roles outside of the classroom can go a long way.
Help them to understand the importance of well-being over grades.
It’s not that good grades don’t matter. But when a student’s mental health is floundering, their grades tend to follow. It can be tempting for students (and parents, too) to address one without the other. A student gets a bad grade so they study harder, stay up later, pile on extra work and extra tutoring. Without addressing the root cause, this added work (and added stress) could cause the student to slide even further. Instead, continue to remind your child that they’re worth isn’t dependent on their report card — even when they’re struggling. This reminder may be all it takes for your child to recognize their well-being matters…and the grades will follow.
Make time for your student’s self-care.
This is a busy time of year, not just in the classroom, but in all aspects of your family’s life. Which is why it’s important for you to assist your student in making time for their self-care. Talk with them about how to squeeze in a self-care ritual during the school week. Help them check their busy calendar for free pockets of time–whether that be an evening off from extracurriculars or a quiet 15-minute break to themselves each afternoon. Here are some extra self-care ideas for you to encourage:
Make time for activities they’re passionate about.
Write in a journal.
Spend time with animals. (If they have pets – great! If not, they could always volunteer at a local animal shelter.)
Get eight hours of sleep each night.
Talk to friends, counselors, teachers, etc. when they’re feeling overwhelmed.
No studying during meal time.
Go outside for walks.
Practice breathing exercises.
If stress is getting the best of your student, our counselors can offer strategies that can help. If you have questions, feel free to contact us HERE or give us a call at 602-997-2880.
Doorways LLC. is a faith-based counseling organization in Phoenix, Arizona, that provides comprehensive outpatient treatment focused exclusively on 13-25-year olds and their families.