School can be a stressful place for kids, especially in the light of all of the emphasis on test scores, elevated expectations on the part of parents and teachers, and the many other stressors that kids encounter in the school environment.
FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR STRESS
Kids generally all feel stress at some point, but many for a variety of reasons. Psychologists tell us that stress is directly related to the thinking of a person and there is an entirely unique line of counseling techniques (known primarily as RET or Rational Emotive Therapy), which attempts to dispute the irrational beliefs held by someone and show them how to think logically to combat bothersome thoughts.
That being said, this doesn’t work for everyone. To combat stress and reduce anxiety, it is important to know what is causing the stress in t he school environment. Stress in the school environment generally comes from one of the following areas:
- Worry over fear of failure or low grades
- Worry or concern over tests and fear of not being able to pass college entrance exams
- Bullying fears based on either real or imagined bullies and negative experiences with others
- Fear of teachers and administrators
- Generalized anxiety
- Fear of being rejected by peers (not popular, etc.)
- Fear of failing in sports or extracurricular activities
- School violence
As stated before, kids worry about different types of things and these thoughts fuel their level of stress. Additionally, the particular stressors that cause anxiety for a child are directly related to what is important to them or what motivates them. For example, if someone is worried about making low grades, they may have a continual worry of not passing exams or making poor grades on their report card. If a child wants to be accepted and have friends, their stress may stem from the underlying desire to be liked. If a child has been bullied in the past, or is afraid of being bullied, they may stress over this.
Understanding the causes of stress is half the battle. Once this is understood, parents, teachers, and counselors can help students by teaching them coping strategies, as well as teaching them to have an understanding that our fears are never as bad as we think in reality.
TIPS TO OVERCOMING SCHOOL STRESS
Once it is determined what the causes of the stress are, these tips may be effective to reducing school-related stress:
- Practicing relaxation and visualization exercises before a test-inducing activity, such as tests or projects
- Rethinking the way they think about their future: Considering other alternatives in the event they do not perform high enough on tests to go to the college of their choice.
- Have more positive experiences. Many fears and anxieties are directly tied to their lack of positive experience in these areas. Kids can increase their confidence level in school by having more positive experiences. Encourage them to take part in those things they are most interested in and in which they are most likely to experience success. Over time, these past successes will increase their confidence in themselves and reduce stress levels related to performance anxiety.
- Better planning strategies: By planning studies, homework assignments, and having a plan for execution, kids feel more ready to take on whatever teachers give them to do, and they will tend to achieve higher on these assignments as a result.
- Know your resources. If kids know where to turn (school counselors, teachers, and other staff) who are willing to help when they encounter bullying or other issues, they are more likely to feel at peace and reduce their stress levels regarding these issues.
STRESS HAPPENS TO TEACHERS TOO
One thing that sometimes helps kids to cope with their school-related stress is to know that teachers have stress too. The world, (not just school) is a stressful place. If kids understand this, they can form a better understanding of the fact that they are not the only ones who experience stress, and that teachers understand their anxieties. Once they realize this, they may be more likely to ask for help form teachers and others and move toward feeling less stressed in the school environment. If school staff work together with parents on this issue, stress can be reduced so that students can feel at ease and do their best, which is the ultimate goal.
One of the lesser known, but nevertheless, quite popular way to alleviate school stress is outsourcing some assignments to services to companies like OZEssay, an Australian based writing company. Although it might seem a non-standard solution, many students, who have to work part time and study, use it. This could be an adequate solution if an essay needs proofreading or a research needs to be done.