How Can I Help My High Schooler?
Every parent wants their teenager to succeed in school. You’ve no doubt made a lot of sacrifices to ensure they have access to a solid education.
But with each passing year, academic pressures increase – more homework, growing difficulty of assignments, assessments are stricter and more time-bound.
There is greater pressure on teens to not only perform well, but to do so consistently. After all, higher education possibilities depend on how well a student performs in high school.
In addition to academic pressure, there is the added pressure of after-school activities, such as sports or clubs, or an after-school job. These are often seen as ways to help students gain entrance to universities or even win a scholarship.
Performing consistently well under pressure in all these areas can take a toll on your teen’s mental and physical health. If you feel they are buckling under pressure, then it is time to step in and help.
The Extreme Stress of Falling Grades
Falling grades can lead to a lot of stress among high schoolers and their parents. The natural tendency of most parents is to push the student to work harder.
However, if your teen is falling behind on homework or assignments, and it’s affecting their grades, then it could be due to poor prioritization of their academic and non-academic pursuits.
It could also be because they are struggling with certain concepts or subjects. In these circumstances, pressuring your teen to continue to perform well can be extremely stressful.
Moreover, some parents over-manage their high schooler’s lives. While the intentions might be well-placed, it can lead to your child buckling under the pressure to please you.
In some instances these falling grades can lead to depression or other mental health conditions such as anxiety. Students may become vulnerable to substance abuse or even resort to stimulant abuse to keep up.
5 Important Steps in Dealing with Academic Pressure
Given how competitive schools and the job market have become, performing well is important. It is normal to expect your child to aim high.
However, if your child is struggling with academic pressures, then there are a few things which can help them cope with the pressure better.
Rest and Relax
Long hours at school, followed by time spent on homework and after-school activities can leave your teen with little time to rest and relax. On top of this, enough rest and relaxation might be exactly what they need the most. If your high school age child is not getting enough of both, it might be a good time to go over their schedule and make necessary changes.
As adults, we tend to take breaks or schedule some “me-time” as a way of dealing with work stress. The same should be said of our high schoolers – they need time to do things that calm them and bring them joy. While this shouldn’t mean spending more time in front of a video game console than a text book, it CAN mean making sure there are a few hours set aside at the weekend to play those games.
Encourage your teen to talk to you about any difficulties they might be facing at school. Let them know they have your complete support and that you will do everything possible to help them perform better.
Lack of sleep is one of the most treatable health risks in kids, especially in the teen population, a group for which chronic loss of sleep has become the new normal. The American Academy of Pediatrics notes, around the onset of puberty, many teens experience what is called a sleep-wake phase delay. This means teens will have a harder time falling asleep and rising at early times. Their circadian preference shifts from a morning type to an evening type. Consider working with your teen to come up with a sleep routine that suits this shift while also taking their school schedule and responsibilities into account.
Consult with a Professional Counselor
If you are unable to help your teen manage academic pressures, consult with a professional counselor. The counselor can help them deal with pressure in a more constructive and healthy manner. Professional help is especially important if you suspect your child has developed anxiety, is struggling with depression, or if they show signs of addiction.
The Rigors of Academics
Academic pressures can impact adolescents mentally and physically. They are under a lot of pressure to ace their classes (or at least try) and to pursue high paying jobs. The kind of competition which exists in today’s world can be unrelenting and it can take a toll on both teens and parents.
Picking up signs of distress and guiding your high schooler through academic intensity can help them deal with their problems better and enable them to deal with future issues and challenges as well.
Professional Counseling with Doorways
If you feel your teen is unable to deal with academic pressure and it is affecting their mental health, it might be time to seek professional help. Connect with us at Doorways or give us a call at 602-997-2880.