Science-backed ways to help your child cope with stress at school

A bullied child demonstrating the need to help kids in primary and secondary school in Cotonou to cope with stress

Kids in primary and secondary school can and do experience stress due to school work, this can be the need to pass a test or the need to impress their parents at the end of the term. Sometimes, this also happens due to the fact that schools are unknowingly overloading pupils and students with too much of assignments and school work.

Understanding the nature of and impact of stress on young people

While stress in itself isn’t a bad thing. Infact, it can help bring out the best in your child’s academics. Mismanaged and prolonged episodes of stress are terrible and can lead to several mental health issues and other challenges.

According to MQ Mental Health Research, 75% of mental illnesses start before a child reaches their 18th birthday, while 50% of mental health problems in adult life (excluding dementia) take root before the age of 15.

The mistake that most parents make is to dismiss these mental and emotional needs of their children as being inconsequential. For example, a child consistently complains of a teacher’s overreaching attitude and it gets dismissed as proof that the teacher is doing well without properly hearing such a child out.

In comparison, to an adult, the complaints of kids and young people may seem small; but to them, these are genuine reasons enough to cause them stress and other difficulties.

Sometimes the cause of stress in school for young people can go beyond their needs to get good grades. This can also be in areas such as dealing with bullies, getting along with friends, or finding balance with the pace or personality of their teachers.

Some signs of stress in kids

Signs of stress in kids and young people in primary and secondary school can show up in a number of ways: 

  • Irritability and anger: Kids don’t know how to express their feelings, it shows in the form of heightened anger and irritation over little things.
  • Changes in behavior: Such as hesitation to go to school or attend certain groupfunctions with school peers. 
  • Trouble sleeping: This could also be caused from stress and extreme fear
  • Neglecting responsibilities: Sudden inability to complete school activities such as homework and other functions at home.
  • Eating changes: Such kids suddenly tend to eat too little or eat too much 
  • Getting sick more often
  • Fearful reactions: This can be triggered at the mention of the subject of their fear. This could a teacher, or school activity.

Seeing that school stress can lead to many harmful outcomes; Parents and other caregivers have an important part to play by sending their kids to a primary or secondary school in Cotonou that prioritizes school-life balance. You can follow these steps to choose the best private primary and secondary school in Cotonou

Ways parents can take action: 

  • Teach them healthy coping habits. Teach your kids how you cope with stress yourself. For example, do you listen to music, pray or talk to someone about it?
  • Teach them problem-solving skills. We have already established that a level of stress is needed to help kids grow and do better at school. Teach kids how to get the little things done by themselves, this will help them develop a positive and healthy attitude towards stress.
  • Help them overcome self-defeating thoughts“I don’t think I can ever understand maths.” “I am too short compared to my other classmates” “I’ll never make the school team. Why bother trying?” These sort of dangerous thought patterns will lead them to sabotage themselves and leave them in a state of perpetual worry and stress.
  • Help them understand their stress triggers: Because kids find it hard to voice the reason for their frustrations, help them put a name to what is happening to them and suggest some coping mechanism. For example, “John, I perceive you are still worried that you came in second in the school competition. That is part of life and growth. We lose some and win some.”
  • Be supportive. Everything is not always about grades, they are first your children, be their parent – be supportive. For example, don’t make the first question upon their return about their test or assignment score.
  • Understand the kind of learner your child is and be patient with him. Not every child is a fast learner, the more you understand them, the less stressed such a child will be, as there is no pressure on him.
  • Make out time for other important things. Family time together, outings, etc. For most parents, once their child is back from school, eat, the next item on the plate is: carry your book. Next day back to school, repeat. Balance these activities and let them have some ‘kid time.’
  • Avoid over-scheduling. Parents and schools in a bid to give children the best tend to overwork kids beyond their carrying capacity. It is your job as a parent to guard against this. There should be a balance.

While stress can help pupils and students perform better in school, prolonged stress can hurt your kids’ academics and health in many ways. While parents have a role to play, finding a primary or secondary school in Cotonou that prioritizes school-life balance is key.

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