Back-to-School – Stress Time


From Health & Wellness Resource Center blog The Pulse.

As August creeps into September, parents and kids alike will begin to plan for the return to school. For many children, getting back into study mode may cause feelings of anxiety or stress. This is particularly true for kids starting high school or junior high when the workload increases and the pressure mounts. High school students staring down SATs and college applications have stressors all their own with which to cope. Younger students may be overwhelmed by the balancing act of tackling school work and extra curricular activities. Helping your child manage stress can do wonders for their ability to thrive now and to handle stress well into adulthood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) defines stress as the uncomfortable feeling you get from worry, fear, anger or frustration—any and all of which can quickly overwhelm. The AAP has created “A Teen’s Personalized Guide to Managing Stress,” which points out that stress isn’t always a bad thing. It can, in fact, prompt us to work harder. But when stress leads to constant worry, fear or anxiety, it can hinder forward movement as well as overall physical and mental well being.

On its web site, the AAP shares “A Parent’s Guide to Building Resilience in Children and Teens,” which walks through proactive ways parents can help their kids manage stress through healthy means. It also lists out signs that may mean a child and his or her parent need to seek help.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) offers tips for parents on how they can help their child manage stress. These include listening carefully to their children and being vigilant for signs or overload. By modeling their own positive stress management skills, parents give their children an example they can follow. The AACAP website also offers suggestions to teens directly. These include exercise, avoidance of drugs including caffeine, enjoyment of outside activities and rehearsing for situations that cause stress.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed information on coping with stress on its web site. It provides tips for parents, tips for kids and teens, and tips for school personnel.

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