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How to Reduce Your Child's School Stress

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School stress can be triggered by too much homework and social problems.

Helping your child stay organized can reduce school stress.

Photo: iStockPhoto.com/Skynesher
School stress is a common problem for today's tweens. Between homework, extra-curricular activities, responsibilities at home, and other challenges, many of today's students struggle to get it all done and reach expectations set by themselves, their families and their schools.

As students advance to middle school and high school, school stress can escalate, and cause a variety of problems for children and their parents.

Here's how you can help your child reduce school stress, and make the most of the middle school years.

Be Realistic

Parents often have the best of intentions, but sometimes parents can set goals for their children that they just can't reach, and that can lead to school stress. Be realistic about what your child can accomplish and refrain from over-reacting if your child doesn't live up to your expectations.

Many parents worry that unless their children achieve straight-As they'll never be accepted to a good college. But that's just not the case. Make it clear to your preteen that your goal isn't perfection, but rather that he learn to embrace and enjoy learning, while doing the best he can.

Cut Back on Commitments

If your child is making the transition to middle school, it might be wise to cut back on commitments until you know more about his workload. It's possible that you'll want to limit extra-curricular activities in order to give your preteen more time to focus on his studies and make time for homework.

Be the Parent

Parents can often forget that they are in charge, and while your child is getting older, he still needs limits. Be sure that your tween gets enough sleep every night, and don't hesitate to turn off the television or computer or collect his cell phone in order to make it happen. Allowing your child to surf the Internet or text his friends until midnight will make for a very difficult school day the next morning, and a tired student is likely to suffer from school stress every now and then.

Establishing a reasonable curfew is also a good idea. Be sure you allow your tween time to wind down after he comes home, in order to transition to bedtime.

Reduce School Stress: Stay Organized

Show your child how to keep track of homework assignments and projects with a daily planner in order to help him stay on top of his responsibilities. It's easier for preteens to chip away at big projects a little at a time, rather than trying to tackling the entire project in an evening or two. You can show your preteen how to set daily goals, keep track of his progress and finish his projects easily, and without stress.

Get Help When Needed

Students may struggle with a particular subject every now and then, but that's no reason to panic. If you think your child is falling behind or just isn't getting it, look into finding after-school help for him. His teacher may offer after hours tutoring, or the school may be able to put you in touch with a tutor from your community. Some children may only need tutoring for a session or two, while others may need extra help for the entire school year. Access your child's needs and then act accordingly.

Know What's Going On

Sometimes school stress has nothing to do with academics. Stress from troubled friendships, bullying and other social situations can impact your child's learning experience. Try to stay informed about your child's social life, offering support and advice when needed. If your child is experiencing bullying behavior, it might be time to inform the school.

Be Positive

Your attitude will rub off on your child, so be as positive as you can about school, assignments, and projects. Make sure your preteen knows that you're available for questions, if he has them, and that you'll offer suggestions when needed.

Support your child's accomplishments, and try not to obsess about every low mark, because slip-ups are bound to happen. Instead, try to focus on the big picture and on the progress your child makes.

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