School-Related Anxiety and Stress in Children and Teens
In a fast paced 21st century, teens have become too hard on themselves by stressing over even the slightest inconvenience. With this the importance of understanding child psychology has increased. Ever so, that it ultimately impacts their mental and physical health which could lead to development of anxiety disorders. Stress in teens can be caused due to various reasons and can be termed as a ‘phase’ of life. However, it could hint at something more than just a phase for some teens.
Reasons behind anxiety in teens are mostly related to school or other child psychology related activities to it. However, with teens, there is always more than meets the eye. If you are observing your young one stressing over petty things a lot lately, give this article a read to understand his/her situation better.
Causes of Anxiety and Stress in Teens
The first step to help your kids deal with school related anxiety and stress is to know what causes it. There is a big role that parents play in the development of a child. Below we have listed down some of the causes:
- Sky-high expectations – This is seen as one of the most common causes of stress among teens, as parents set high expectations from their children in terms of academic achievements. Instead of motivating them to perform better, it fills them with a feeling of not being good enough, even after trying really hard. No matter how good their results actually are, they never feel satisfied with the outcome of their hard work. Also, the child psychology plays an vital role.
- Increased competition – It is not hidden from anyone that in a race to become the ‘best’ in every field, be it academics or sports, students put on a lot of pressure on themselves, which ultimately impacts their overall health. This leads to anxiety and stress in teens.
- Hormonal imbalance – Teenage is a time when both boys and girls experience hormonal changes. Not knowing exactly how to handle the frequent mood swings, they often become irritated, developing a feeling of helplessness. The imbalance of hormones causes increased levels of stress in teens, making them anxious.
- Disagreement with elders – While teens want to explore the world and experience new things, they might be in the middle of a disagreement with their parents, teachers or other elders in the house. They are at an age where they want to be independent, without wanting to be “permitted” to do something. This makes them feel restricted which is bound to make them feel anxious.
- Peer pressure – For some teens, watching peers excel in a subject or win an art competition may make them proud. While others may feel jealous or pressured to outdo them. This pressure can also be social in nature. You might not allow your teen an extended curfew time or to go watch a movie, while he/she is still learning to be independent. This could be another cause of developing stress in teens.
Now that you have understood what could be the probable cause for your teen’s stress and anxiety, it’s time to check out the signs.
Symptoms of Stress in Teens
- Trouble sleeping or staying asleep for a long time
- Lack of concentration
- Avoiding social gathering
- Wanting to skip school or any particular class
- Feeling fatigue often
- Lack of patience or feeling of restlessness
- Physical signs of sweaty palms, headaches, pounding heart in a given situation
According to Melissa Cohen, a certified practitioner of child psychology, feeling anxious or being a little stressed about certain activities or tasks may actually be beneficial for us to stay motivated – “Some levels of stress can actually be good for us, as the right kind of stress encourages us toward change and growth.” However, if your teen’s stressful state of being lasts longer than a few weeks then it’s time to address it as it could indicate an anxiety disorder.
When stress levels reach such an extent that it begins to affect your teen’s day-to-day wellbeing and disrupts his/her daily routine, you should consider seeking professional counselling.
If your teen experiences a panic attack over homework and feels unreasonably pressured in school, he/she might be experiencing one of , these anxiety disorders. Here, child psychology plays an important role where the parents need to understand the cause of stress and anxiety
- Generalised anxiety – stressing over everyday activities on a daily basis.
- Phobia-specific anxiety – this is related to any particular situation or object, for example, fear of closed spaces, fear of cats, etc.
- Social phobia – fear of interacting with social groups, fear of being embarrassed among a group of people, etc.
- Panic attack – facing a sudden gush of panic in a situation where others would behave normally.
- Separation anxiety – fear of being separated from family, friends or a loved one.
In all of these, there is one factor that remains constant and that is ‘fear’. Life should never be lived in fear, and you should provide your anxious teen with unconditional support to overcome such fears.
How to Deal with Academic Anxiety and Stress in Teens
- Breathe in and out – Meditation helps in relieving stress and can also help your teen motivate herself to do better everyday.
- Set short term goals – To let go of school related anxiety, set short term goals which your teen will be able to achieve without stressing much. Yes, it might not be a long list of to-do’s but it will give you the satisfaction of completing work that you assigned yourself in a given period of time.
- Reward your teen – After you strike off your accomplished tasks for the day, reward your young lad! This could be his favorite meal or maybe a chocolate at the end of the day. This will give them recognition of their hard work and dedication.
- Optimistic support – It is in our nature to make mistakes as humans. Therefore, you have to support them optimistically to let them know that it is okay to make mistakes and that tomorrow will be better.
- Time to relax – After every hectic week of school, allow your teen to spend quality time with family and friends to recharge from the busy schedule and relax! This is a great way to break free from the shackles of a scheduled life.
- 8-hour mandatory sleep – Make sure your stressed teen is getting 8 hours of sleep daily. Lack of sleep only increases levels of anxiety, be it children or adults. If they are having trouble sleeping, you can suggest to them a playlist with soothing or calming music that will help them forget their worry and sleep like a baby.
- Join a helping hand – Parents, do not shy away from asking for professional help if your teen needs it. There is no harm in visiting a professional who would only help make your teen’s life easier to live.
Anxiety is like an extra baggage that your teen would never want to carry on his back. Stressing over something that might or might not happen today, will have a negative impact on the future of your child. Teens often feel lost with so many changes occurring within and around them. They need your support, only they wouldn’t tell you. Help them in their journey to become stress-free!