Friday, September 24, 2010

Help Your Kids to Win These 5 Sources of School Stress

As parents, there’s nothing worse than seeing our children unhappy.
Chances are, at some point during their school years, most children will suffer the effects of school-related stress. Kids are resilient and the effects of stress are generally short-lived, but there are situations in which feelings continue to fester and cause other issues.
Some signs a child might be stressed over school matters are:
·         Not wanting to go to school
·         Frequently suffering from stomach-aches or other pains that have no apparent physiological cause
·         Increased nervousness or worry about school events
·         Being excessively tired in the mornings or after school
·         Decreased interest in completing assignments
·         Crying or expressing anger during the school day
·         Extreme lack of organization at school
·         A sudden drop in achievement
Just being aware of these warning signs is the first step in helping kids to learn important coping strategies.
Here are 5 common sources of stress that can arise at school, and how to help your children deal with them:

1. Fatigue.

Think of how you feel having to go to work when you’re overtired. Now imagine how your child would respond to school under similar conditions.
Children who appear fatigued during the school day, or who are unable to rise at their usual time, are likely suffering the effects of too little sleep. One way to combat this is by implementing a strict bedtime routine.
Work with your children to establish guidelines. Limit television, video games, or other stimulating activities after dinner. Set aside bath time or quiet reading each night, followed by a specific bedtime. Ensure they follow the same routine each night, and be sure to wake them at the same time every morning. Once the routine is established, you’ll be able to adjust sleeping and waking times to suit their needs.

2. Boredom.

Ever hear your child complain that school is boring? It may be that school is either too easy or too challenging, but more than likely it’s simply your child’s growing need to be active and let off steam.
Because they spend so much of the day sitting at their desks, don’t compound the boredom problem by allowing your children to spend a lot of time vegetating after school. Organize extra-curricular activities a couple of days per week. Sports, dance, music lessons and youth groups can help kids keep active and gain valuable life experiences. On days when there are no activities planned, encourage kids to play outside, invite a friend over, or play a game with you.

3. Grades.

Poor or lowering grades can become a major source of stress. If your child appears to be anxious about an isolated poor grade, explain the importance of looking at the big picture, instead of each individual mark.
However, if grades are consistently low or steadily dropping, it may be a sign your child needs an extra hand. First, set up an interview with the classroom teacher and/or school principal to identify the source of trouble. It could be a problem with communication, processing, or a troublesome subject. Second, discuss ways to help your child be successful.
Teachers can adapt program requirements to accommodate your child’s needs, and you can be given advice on how to help them at home. If necessary, you can discuss options for private tuition.

4. Peers.

As much as we think our kids are wonderful, there will be times others don’t agree. Most children go through periods of social isolation or being bullied by peers.
Help kids build confidence outside of school by involving them in extra-curricular activities and community groups. If they can find a source of friendship and stability outside of the classroom, they’re more likely to bring those affirmative feelings to school with them each day.
If your child is being bullied, do not hesitate to involve the school principal. Explain that you wish to have the problem dealt with in a discreet manner so your child does not become even more of a target.
Most of all, when kids begin to feel isolated by their peers, they need your love, patience and understanding.

5. Authority.

Some children are highly sensitive to sources of authority in the school, and the root problem can lie with either party.
I have seen how just one child can destroy the entire classroom environment with his or her lack of respect for authority. Sometimes this is a problem that starts at home. Remember, your children are always watching you for behavioural cues, so ensure you model appropriate and respectful behaviour in front of them.
On the other hand, there are times when a child is unnecessarily singled-out by a figure of authority, causing undue stress and embarrassment. In this case, be sure to voice your concerns to the teacher or employee involved. If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome, contact your school chiarman/Board of education for advice on who you can talk to about the matter.
Our children shouldn’t have to spend their days worrying about the stresses of school. If anxiety becomes a problem in your family, find ways to quickly deal with the offending issues, and help kids continue to be kids.

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