School is a high-pressure environment. The student must compete with himself as well as with his peers. He wants to please himself, his parents and his teachers. It’s intense! Because most kids spend the majority of their day at school (and have to deal with homework once home), it’s only natural for them to feel stressed throughout the academic year.
How can parents help children who worry about school performance? Consider the following tips:
Equip Your Child with the Right Study Habits
School performance can be enhanced by having the right work ethic and knowing the tricks to better learning. If possible, hire a tutor to teach your child how to learn. That tutor (or, you, yourself, if you have the patience, skills, time and energy!) can teach your child mnemonics, or aids to better memorization, promote conscientious note-taking, provide some test-taking tips. If tutoring is not and option, check with your child’s teacher to see if he or she can provide a tutorial on study skills. In some schools, the guidance department also offers this service. You can also help by creating conducive study spaces at home, and make sure your child is always well-rested during class (by getting a good night’s sleep). When kids know how to approach learning like a science, they can feel less anxious about their school performance.
Encourage Your Children to Communicate Early if They’re Having Problems
Encourage your children to come to you or to their teacher ASAP if they are having difficulty in understanding or keeping up with lessons. It’s better to deal with a problem early, rather than feel the pressure when the problems have piled up. Similarly, it is always best if teachers know which of their students is experiencing worry about school performance. Knowing that a child has anxieties can make a teacher more sensitive about the things he or she will say, and proactive at providing encouragement. Let your child’s teacher know if your child is experiencing performance anxiety or learning anxiety of any kind.
Adjust Your Expectations Based on Your Child’s Natural Gifts
All parents want their children to be the best in their class — and there’s nothing wrong with encouraging kids to seek achievement. But the reality is, some children are more gifted than others when it comes to academics. There are also those with inborn skills that make them better adept than peers at certain subjects like math or language. If your child’s strength lies in other areas, such as sports or arts, then still encourage him to be the best that he can be in school, but also help him fulfill their potential in other areas. Try to have realistic academic expectations so your child doesn’t feel unduly pressured; it’s painful enough for children to receive low grades – they don’t want to know that they’re breaking your heart on top of it all.
Try Natural Remedies for School Stress
Bach Flower Remedies can help ease a child’s way through school stress. Larch helps with fear of failing. Cerato helps with feeling judged. White Chestnut helps with obsessive thinking (the kind that keeps you up at night). Rescue Remedy can help with test anxiety. Mimulus helps with shyness that might create social problems at school. You can find more information about the Bach Flower Remedies online and throughout this site.
In addition, the use of EFT (emotional freedom technique) can reduce text anxiety, social stress and academic stress. You can find more information about EFT online and in books.
Seek Professional Help
When a child is suffering from academic stress and support and natural interventions are not enough to relieve the pressure, do consider seeking the help of a mental health professional. Panic attacks, stomach aches, headaches, depressed mood and chronic stress can all be alleviated with the right help. Ask your child’s pediatrician for a referral. Your child will not only feel better, but will likely perform better as well!