Most students are about three and a half weeks into learning from home and the stress is building.  This is very normal in an unfamiliar situation like the one that students are stuck in now.  The current stress that adolescents are experiencing is exacerbated by the fact that they are not fully developed physically or cognitively.  Adolescent’s brains are not yet fully developed and they lack key components of the neural circuitry underlying executive functions such as working memory, planning, and impulse control.  Especially nowadays, school stress for students can boil over and cause parent stress or anxiety.  Now is a great time to reflect, reset by restoring balance, and offer your child challenges and activities unrelated to schoolwork.

Restoring Balance

Reflect on the past three weeks and identify what could be leading to increased stress levels.  A stressor is anything that causes the release of stress hormones.  The most common academic stressors for adolescents are parental expectations, schoolwork load, lack of organization, poor time management, and procrastination.  It’s probably time to restore the balance by ensuring that a schedule is being followed for schoolwork as well as other parts of the day.  A healthy balance would result from consideration and time allotments for all of the following: schoolwork, family time, play time, chores/work, electronic use, and unstructured time.  Creating a balanced structure on the front end will save you from stress and anguish on the back end.

Stress Relief Challenge

Complete the challenge list below with your child in an attempt to relieve some stress.

  • Disconnect from social media—We are in a world in which people constantly share their ideas and opinions.  Challenge your child to spend some time away from social media outlets in an effort to develop their own unbiased ideas and opinions on topics.
  • Watch the news—This can be a difficult thing to want to encourage our children to do, especially now as we try to avoid instilling fear in them.  However, use this as an opportunity to allow your child to understand why things happen in the world.  Watching the news together can provide you a great opportunity to talk with your child about things that happen, and offer a chance for you to gauge how they feel about things.
  • Be innovative—Give your child a chance to solve problems on their own.  Some of our greatest inventions were created during the world’s most troubling times.  Who knows, your child could be the next Thomas Edison!
  • Set new goals—Encourage your child to really think about things they want to accomplish.  Don’t feel a need to focus on academics; accomplishing personal goals are just as important as accomplishing academic goals.
  • Find a new hobby—You and your child may not be able to leave the house but stepping outside in the open air can be refreshing.  Try out different physical activities, sit and admire nature, draw what you see, etc.  The possibilities are endless!
  • Pique your interest—Allow your child to read things that aren’t academic.  Reading for entertainment or interest is just as productive.
  • Connect with family members—Spend time with your child; learn what they like and share what you like.  Growing the relationships we have with our children is the most crucial thing we can do in times like these.  Experiences within our own family unit can have a tremendous effect on the lives of our children.