For some kids the new school year is a chance to get back into the social swing of things, to learn and to complain about homework.
For other kids it can be a stressful time that’s hard to cope with.
Luckily, your children have you to help them through it.
School stress is not uncommon in the modern world, where school can be a competitive environment at all levels fed by expectations coming at kids from all angles. At a basic level, and this is true for children and adults, stress is good for us. Stress challenges the brain and helps motivate us to improve and do better. But too much stress can leave kids frozen by the pressure, and unable to move forward unassisted.
Signs of School Stress
Every child is different, which means they’re going to respond to situations, like school stress, in their own unique way. That being said, there are some things to look out for which might clue you in that your child is having issues managing their stress levels.
- Extreme clinginess: Kids who have previously been independent suddenly want to be around you all the time, don’t want to do activities or go to school alone.
- Problems sleeping: Nightmares, disturbed sleep and insomnia could all be signs that your child is suffering from school stress.
- Concentration problems: You may notice that it’s difficult to keep them engaged with homework, and you may have had complaints from their teacher about concentrating in class.
- Developing bad habits: This is particularly common, with children often developing repetitive habits like nail biting, thumb sucking or hair pulling (trichotillomania) as a way to comfort themselves.
- Regression: Major stress can sometimes cause children to regress, and begin acting as though they were younger, with bedwetting a common example.
- Withdrawn behaviour: Kids who are stressed can become exhausted in many instances, often leaving them very withdrawn among family and friends with whom they should be comfortable.
- Hyperactivity: Excessive energy is another sign of stress, with kids getting so worked up they can’t allow themselves to rest.
- Change in eating habits: Food can be a comfort for some children, and an annoyance for others, so pay attention if your child suddenly wants to eat all the time or not at all.
- Overreactions to problems: Kids who are under a lot of stress can have very short fuses, so constant overreactions to small problems should not be ignored.
Some Reasons For School Stress
Stress in children can be a complex thing, but if you think that school might be behind your little one getting overwhelmed, there are a few things in the school environment that stresses kids out. Make sure that your child isn’t having problems with any of the following:
- Bullying at school
- Problems socialising (cliques and groups)
- Anxiety about performance
- Overwhelmed by expectations (from self or others)