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wundayatta's avatar

Do you have a plan to deal with school stress for your high schooler?

Asked by wundayatta (58638points) April 15th, 2011

Yesterday, my daughter told me that her history teacher had just dumped four week’s worth of assignments on her to do over spring break, which starts Monday. It seems like kids are getting more and more pressure about all the stuff they have to do to get into a good college. Apparently the emotional health of college freshmen is at its lowest level ever.

It seems like it would be prudent to develop a plan to help your teen deal with stress so they don’t get depressed or even attempt suicide because they feel like they are failing.

How would you or how do you prepare your teens to deal with this stress?

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8 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

I would always find out the other side of the story. Perhaps your daughter misunderstood? You have every right to politely ask the teacher about this. If you’re still unhappy, talk to the dean of faculty or upper school principal or chairman of the department. There must be a process for clarification.

BeeVomit's avatar

Depending on which school your child wishes to attend after school, a GED certificate is a good way to get out of all that extra legwork. For the amount of work needed from the average student in America to get through their Junior and Senior years, most kids would have the ability to gain an Associates’ Degree from a minor college. It’s worth the trouble, believe me. It’s also a great way for students to relieve their stresses. Consider that your student would have more mature friends, perhaps more free time between classes, less books to carry and ruin their back, and one way or another, a leg up in the education process over the average High Schooler by the time they reach normal graduation age. Even in the work place, a GED will get you hired just as well as a Diploma, since it shows the employer that the person worked hard enough to get out early and make something of themselves in the world.

I had the ability to graduate early out of High School because of my abilities, though I didn’t take a GED. What I realized was that if I had taken it that early, I would now be at the level of a few of my friends in college now. One, in fact, that is only a few months older than I has already earned a BS in Physical Fitness from Humbolt University. I had just earned an AA from my local college the same time she was going into her third year to cap off that leg of her education. Scholarships are readily available for younger persons because their age is usually considered a handicap, and Federal Aid is enough for a full-time student (usually) to pay all their school-related bills. The Fed will usually pay for tuition as well.

As for doing the work as a freshman now, that promise to become emancipated from high school by the age of 16 is a good incentive for a child to keep working towards that goal. They may well be able to maintain the workload, and focus on getting the best grade they can, if they know the study will make for a quick exit from their school. High School was and is a hell to most kids, no matter how supportive the family at home. It’s no better than many junior colleges, especially if you consider that gateway drugs and other bad habits come to struggling, stressed teenagers even moreso than in college. At least in college your student can pick the courses they wish to take, and the speed at which they want to succeed. If they get into one at 16, that’s two more years they have in which to pass courses, than their 18+ friends who will graduate later.

If you don’t think your child can make it in college so early, test them at it. Many colleges allow “enrichment” courses to young teens to see if they can handle the stresses of adult schools. My last semester before graduating in 08 I studied with a 14 year old in my Spanish class. I had the unique opportunity of being paired with him and a man from Iran on a student exchange program. Since the three of us were so poor at the language we had to pull together to get our grade. It was astonishing to see a kid that young work so hard in a college environment. I know he was pretty average as well, not a genius. If he can do it, I bet your child could too.

BeeVomit's avatar

I’m sorry, I got a little ahead of myself there. The question you posed I would give the answer of using herbal teas to stimulate your teen’s mind toward positive mannerisms. Also, energy drinks that are more tangible than Monsters. Keep them away from Junk Foods as best you can. Eat dinners at home with them, make them breakfast and give them space to apply themselves to the work. Be strict but not a dictator. Those are all things I know helped me in school from my parents.

A good tea to have in any person’s diet is St. Johns Wort. It’s an MAOI, an inhibitor for the brain’s limitations on allowing chemicals to do their job. Basically, this coupled with an improved, healthy diet (pack snacks of pb and celery, raisins, apples and cheese), helps the brain to relieve built-up stresses in both the body and mind. It’s also considered by many professionals to be one of the best natural anti-depressants. That will help your child (and yourself if you’re willing) to face most challenges that loom.

Mariah's avatar

I read your first article and it made me cringe. The author has some good parenting suggestions towards the end but even those aren’t enough sometimes. I don’t know where all the pressure comes from exactly, but it isn’t always the parents. I’m sure it’s often the parents, but what I mean is that good parenting isn’t going to guarantee a calm child.

High school was needlessly stressful, and I didn’t even go to an intense high school. In fact I went to a pretty underachieving public school and I still made myself sick with stress. I don’t know where it came from because my parents have never put pressure on me – they’d have been happy if I’d cooled it a little, actually. I’ve been like this since elementary school. I remember being a kid and getting a bad grade on a test and saying “my mom is going to kill me” and immediately feeling funny about having said that – I really wasn’t worried about my mom’s reaction at all, I had just said that because that’s what people said when they got bad grades. Really what I felt was disappointment in myself and I hadn’t learned how to express that yet, so I said my mom was going to kill me.
Anyway, I guess the best thing you can do is try and instill some perspective in your child. Kids need to know that they can still accomplish big things even if they don’t go to an Ivy League, and that their high school grades don’t have to be perfect if they don’t go to an Ivy League. Really, that would have been the best thing anyone could have taught me, although I don’t know that I would have listened at the time.
My train of thought, and I think a lot of the kids who are the most high-strung in high school probably share this attitude, was this: I need to do the best I can do because I want to keep all my options open. I don’t know where I’m going to end up wanting to go to college, but if it turns out that Harvard is my dream school, I want to be able to go there and not be limited by my having been lazy in high school. Plus, I am convinced that there is only one career option that will bring me joy in life, and that career is an extremely competitive one so I HAVE to get into a great school so I can be a standout in my field. And the future matters much more than the present, and there is nothing to lose by putting everything I can into my high school career.
There is a tiny shred of good logic in that thought process but a lot of really poisonous logic too; please convince your children not to think this way. I don’t know how you change a child’s mind who is as dead-set on following that logic as I was. Back then, if anyone had tried to tell me what I’m saying now, I would have thought some snobbish line about how that person “doesn’t understand ambition” or something.
Long story short, I could have slacked off SO much more than I did in high school in order to get accepted to the college I ended up choosing, and I so regret all the wasted time and stress. But I was a stubborn little brat back then and I don’t know what anyone could have said to me to have taught me I didn’t need to be like that.

Assassin_15's avatar

I’m a high school student myself so I can relate to your daughter. I also find myself becoming incredibly stressed when tons of work is dumped on me. Since you said she had 4 weeks worth of work to do, I suggest making a schedule and breaking down the work into amounts that are do-able during the day so she has time to enjoy spring break as well. Second, if she finds herself becoming more stressed out the more time she spends working, she should take a break and do something fun and relaxing, ( reading, taking a walk, taking a shower, etc.) so when she returns to work she feels refreshed and ready to tackle the load. All the best to her!

wundayatta's avatar

She decided that she couldn’t take the textbooks, since they would break the weight limit for her luggage. Without them, she can’t do the homework.

BeeVomit's avatar

@wundayatta My biggest hurt in school wasn’t the workload, but the bookload. Maybe if there are ebooks available for purchase, you could get her a Mac book? Maybe half or more of her texts wouldn’t be available, but then at least she’d be relieved of some of them. Just a thought.

mattbrowne's avatar

Fresh air. Exercise. A limit for computer usage.

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