Experts advise parents how to help kids deal with school stress

8:45 AM, Sep 5, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Now that students are back in school, the reality of managing homework, sports, and other activities can cause emotional stress for some.

Whether students are starting school for the first time, entering high school or simply returning to new teachers and classmates, experts say many students start experiencing anxiety weeks in advance and if it goes unaddressed it could get worse.

"You might see things like them having problems getting ready in the morning or complete school refusal where they say 'I'm not going to school and you cant make me. I won't get on the bus and you cant make me go,'" said Dr. Adelle Caxieux, a child psychologist with Spectrum Health. "It can really play out in some behavioral ways for our kids and we just need to recognize that there is something going on when that happens."

Cadieux says parents can help even before they spot any problems by spending time talking to their kids about their day and any issues they may be having. She says it is also important to not pass along adult anxieties over the new school year to the kids.

"When we don't feel confident in ourselves it makes us very challenged in being able to confront difficult situations," said Cadieux. "And so we really need to build a confidence in our kids so they know they can go into those new situations and really be successful."

"Parents also have a lot of stress when school resumes. For some parents it is just the stress of now as they are getting ready for work or having to get their kids ready for school there is all these new things they have to be doing that they didn't have to do during the summer," she said. "It creates a lot of morning stress, so the more structured we can be in the morning, the more prepared we can be in the morning, the less stress it is going to be on ourselves as parents."

Also, some parent can cause added stress by pushing kids to be over-achievers. Cadieux says it is a good idea for parents to structure some down-time into their kids' days to let the kids re-charge their batteries.

"If we have them working on homework for hours at end plus doing activities, whether it is music lessons or sports or specific learning activities, That is really going to overload them," she said.

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