School can be a slog – there’s no doubt about that. It’s a place where great memories and lifelong friendships are forged, both inside and outside the classroom, but it has its fair share of natural negativity too with the pressure of homework, assignments and exams. We shouldn’t forget the fact that our kids are only young, and as such, they’re entitled to get the best out of their time at school. One of the most important ways they can do that is to ensure they understand how stress, failure and burnout manifest, and are aware of strategies they can implement in order to deal with those experiences.
Before spelling out what some of the best strategies for dealing with stress and anxiety are, I think it’s important to make the distinction between positive and negative stress, and normal and excessive overload.
Some level of workload is normal for your child, and what this level is will of course depend on what year they are in at school. Normal overload is a good thing as it often evokes a positive form of stress related to the need to complete set work and study. This form of stress can be motivating, as your child is not placed under extreme mental or physical exhaustion, and in fact it is positive stress that most often produces the highest quality work. Excessive overload, on the other hand, is, as the name suggests, any workload in excess of what’s normal and healthy. This often involves your child trying to bite off more than they can chew, in terms of both their academics and their extracurricular activities. Excessive overload evokes negative stress, which stems from the fact that they are working at maximal capacity for an amount of time that surpasses their capabilities. Overloading inevitable results in emotional and physical exhaustion, eventually reducing the quality of work.
In order to cope with stress and anxiety, students can try many strategies. Some of the most effective include:
- Starting with the basics. That includes eating healthy food, non-harmful substances, sleeping, and scheduling downtime. Taking time to pause from the relentless pace of everyday life and enjoying activities will decrease children’s stress levels by ensuring they are not constantly dwelling or stressing over school pressures.
- Change their maladaptive thinking patterns. You only get stressed out if you believe your thoughts. All stress is precipitated by stressful thinking. Children should be realistic and set goals and plans in place to ensure they are not overwhelmed by the unknown.
- Take baby steps. Children should cut their work down into manageable, bite-sized portions that are less overwhelming compared to looking at the big picture. Say they have an essay to write that’s making them feel anxious, they should list the individual steps that lead to the essay being finished.
- Try again. If your child feels like they have failed, help them re-frame the situation and see this as an opportunity to grow and learn from their mistakes or downfall. Failure is truly the only opportunity to begin again, more wisely.
Hayden McEvoy, CEO & Founder of A Team Tuition
Hayden McEvoy created A Team Tuition when he was just 20 years old, and now it is the leading tutoring company in Australia with over 270,000 hours of tutoring. Hayden has an amazing story, as he was diagnosed with ADHD and did poorly in school up until about Year 10. It was then that he discovered that education is about strategy. He never considered himself naturally smart, but once he changed his attitude to school, enlisted those around him to act as his support network and created a study strategy that worked for him, he transformed from D’s to A’s. He is now one of the leading experts in education and A Team Tuition is the first tutoring company to partner with schools and the Australian Boarding School Association to provide all students with the opportunity to succeed. Hayden believes that tutoring, done correctly, has the power to change the life of a student. A Team tuition doesn’t just believe in tutoring kids, they believe in reshaping the curriculum for kids, and letting them discover just how much they can learn. That is where tutoring becomes transformational. And that is at the heart of everything they do at A Team Tuition.
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