Stress is a normal part of life. Anything that challenges our skills and what we know will make us feel a bit of pressure. But once we are able to get over it and solve these challenges, the payoff feels like you have just won an impossible bet with the universe.
However, too much stress can cause harm to our health. When a person is constantly under a lot of pressure, this becomes chronic, and it can affect us in ways that may be irreversible. It starts with a bad headaches until it worsens into chest pain and fatigue.
If this is how stress affects us adults, our kids who are experiencing excessive stress because of school may need our help.
Child stress is becoming rampant and unmanageable
Kids these days are under a lot of pressure to perform well in both academics and extracurricular activities. Most post-secondary schools require too much of their applicants, and so our kids work night and day to make sure they are able to fufill those requirements.
Remember that kids should not dread going to school. It is one of the best places to discover oneself and improve on their talents and skills. If things get too hard for our kids, it is our job as their guardians to make sure we see the beginnings of chronic stress and help them cope with it.
Intense mood swings
You can start observing whether your kids are having intense mood swings especially when the exam season is about to start. They can express this in many ways, like they might be happy in the morning before they leave and then look melancholic when they get home.
It is important that you monitor their moods every after schools so you can reach if they have reached their emotional threshold. One of the things you can do is make sure they are comfortable when they are doing their schoolwork. Ask if they want to eat while working or if they want to watch a film in between schoolwork. You can even ask them if they need help finishing their projects.
The goal is to reduce the instances of intense mood swings so that it does not turn into an outburst.
Frequent emotional outbursts
When the mood swings do become outbursts that is a sign that the stress is too much for them to take. For this, expect that they will find ways to expel their emotions in one big episode. It can come in the form of banging on doors, getting angry at the littlest things, or crying.
It is important that you stay calm when this happens, especially when the outburst is directed to you. Do not go with their anger, instead give them room to ride it out, but be there to help them come down from it. You can offer to give them emotional assurance through hugs, food, or just by simply being understanding of their situation.
When your kids start complaining about the same headache or stomach pain, you can take this as a sign that they are already experiencing stress. To make sure that this is not an actual physical pain, have them checked by a doctor first. If they confirm that nothing is wrong with them physically, you can start doing efforts to alleviate the stress that they are in.
Other than making study time comfortable, ensure that they take as much breaks from their work as they can so that their minds will feel refreshed and relaxed every time they start a new task.
Lastly, excessive stress will make it hard for them to get some much needed sleep at night. In fact, their sleeping patterns will be disrupted significantly if the stress is not reduced. The best way to address this is to help them relax. You can meditate with them 30 minutes before they need to go to bed to quiet down their minds and give them time to transition from work to rest.
Efforts of schools in alleviating child stress
One of the countries with the most child-friendly education is Singapore. Most international schools there include play and talent development on the curriculum. There are Singapore private schools which have incorporated a happiness index in their educational framework.
Schools like the Global Indian International School want to make sure that while they are providing the most holistic approach to learning, the students are not in any way having a hard time coping with the rigorous demands of school.
The happiness index tells them whether there needs to be an adjustment in the framework and the problems they need to address in order to create an environment that cultivates lifelong learning.
This is the dream for all schools. But until then, we need to be on the lookout for signs of chronic stress and be there when our kids need it.
*This is a collaborative post*