Let’s go over 7 practical tips we, as parents, can teach our children on how to not stress about school.
Stress impacts performance, attitudes and our physical and mental health.
Yes, attitude (and what parent wants a cranky tween or teenager)?
School stress is real and it can elevate during the end of the semester or school year with the pressure of tests, homework and the unknown of what the next grade will bring.
Recently, Virgin Media TV shared a lengthy post and I want to pull seven of the tips that will help your child when it comes to school stress.
How to Help Your Child Learn Faster
First, before sharing 7 tips with you on how to not stress about school, let’s share a strategy that will help with one of the leading causes of your child’s school stress.
Most students have brain overload from trying to memorize everything for a test.
This is a great video by Jim Kwik on how to learn anything faster.
He uses the acronym FAST. It stands for:
- Forget: Forget everything you know about a subject so your mind remains open to learning more
- Active: Take notes, ask questions, and move, become an active learner
- State: Make sure you have a positive state of mind and if you aren’t, do something to improve your mental state (going on a walk, having a snack, etc.)
- Teach: If you want to really commit something to memory, teach it to someone else, as there’s no better way to ensure you understand the material
Take a look at Jim’s article or listen to the podcast episode for a deeper dive into the FAST method.
And now, for our seven tips…
7 Tip on How To Not Stress About School
1. Take care of yourself physically
If you want to perform at your highest, you need to take the best possible care of yourself. And this becomes especially important during periods of heightened stress, like exam season.
Make sure you’re getting sufficient sleep. That means not staying up until all hours of the night cramming. Try to cut it off (and even stay off your devices) an hour before you’re ready to turn in for the night.
Eat well. Cut back on sugar and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet. You may even want to try cutting sugar out for a while (although don’t start this when you’re in the middle of exams). You’ll find that after cutting out sugar you feel better and more focused.
Make sure you’re maintaining your fitness routine (not cutting it out because you’re busy). Rachel Hollis described during an Instagram broadcast how, in preparation of her upcoming conference where she was going to be on stage for hours talking every day, she increased her workouts to twice daily. She did this not because she wanted to drop weight, but because she wanted to increase her stamina so she could bring maximum energy to the stage.
2. Define what success means to your family
Throughout the school year, and especially during exam season, make sure your kids know what success means in your family. It doesn’t mean a perfect score on a test for example. This can take the pressure off kids, knowing that a test score won’t matter in your eyes.
What matters, for your family, is that you do your best, that you behave with integrity, etc.
Define what success means in your family so your children will feel less pressure over grades.
3. Practice family relaxing
Families, and especially kids, are busier than ever before. Between sports, school organizations, church, or whatever else your family is involved in, you can feel like you’re constantly on the go.
Which can very quickly wear down every member of your family. That’s why it’s so important to schedule in down time.
Maybe it means you limit or even ban homework on Sundays and make it a day about family and mentally preparing for the rest of the week. Do what works best for your family, but make sure you include some down time, especially over the weekend, so your kids will start each new week recharged and ready to face each new challenge head on.
4. Understand the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ brain
This is basically just an easy way to help your kids think about the emotional response they have in situations versus the prefrontal cortex, which isn’t fully developed until your child is in his or her twenties.
We’re used the example of a glitter jar before, where your child’s brain in an agitated state resembles a shaken glitter jar. This visual example helps your child to understand why he responds the way he does. It can also help your child to put off making any decisions until calming down.
For exam season, or in school in general, it can help your teen or tween understand the importance of learning techniques to remain calm during high stress situations. You cannot, clearly, think well for a test if your brain resembles a shaken glitter jar.
5. Name it to tame it
There are a wide range of emotions you can feel. When your child is a toddler, you start with the simple ones, like anger, fear, sadness, calm, and happy. But as your children get older, there are a wide range of emotions and it’s important that your teen or tween be able to identify how he or she actually feels (anxious, stressed, lonely, etc.).
Once you identify the emotion, you can come up with a strategy for dealing with the emotion. But you need to be able to name it to tame it.
— Lori Lite (@StressFreeKids) May 9, 2018
You can use visualization in a variety of ways to manage stress both in and out of exam season.
You can visualize you have an inner coach upstairs (in the pre-frontal cortex) and ask yourself how your coach would respond.
You can also use visualization to just walk yourself through whatever is giving you stress and anxiety. Visualize yourself walking into the school, sitting down at your test, and knowing all the answers. Trick your brain into being your most confident self ever!
7. Be an imperfect role model
We all make mistakes. We all have bad days. Talk about your own mistakes with your kids and how you move forward after making those mistakes.
Normalize failure so they don’t fear it. Let them know it’s just part of the process.
Conclusion: How to Deal with School Stress and Anxiety
Kids are under more stress than ever before with busy schedules and enormous workloads. And that stress always goes up during test season, when the pressure to perform can be overwhelming.
That’s why it’s so important to talk to our kids about how to manage their stress and anxiety during the school year (and exam season). We suggest these seven strategies:
- Take care of yourself physically
- Define what success means to your family
- Practice family relaxing
- Understand the ‘upstairs’ and ‘downstairs’ brain
- Name it to tame it
- Be an imperfect role model