As a beginning teacher, I didn’t think much about stress management among my students. It was enough to complete my lesson plans, present material, test, and score the tests. By the time I worked my way up to a position as teaching principal in a high school, however, I had realized that young people deal with stress, and stress management must be a part of my job.
Stress Management for Students in Elementary School
It is sad to think that stress management is needed by children as young as six, but it is sadly true. Stress management for students in elementary school is a necessary as it is for adults. Young children fear changes that come with going to school. They fear making friends, meeting the expectations of teachers, and understanding their studies. They are stressed by homework and after school activities.
How can you teach stress management for students of this age?
Teach by Example: Get on the same side of the table with your children. They need a healthy diet and plenty of exercise to manage stress. Join them in both. A healthy body will make it easier for them to handle stress.
Structure Life: Another key to stress management for students in grades K through 8 or 9 is a structured environment within which they can function safely. Boundaries and rules offer security, whether in the classroom, on the playground, or at home. The uncertainty of changing rules can heap stress on children. Classrooms should maintain schedules, and discipline unruliness. Families should have clear rules about such matters as homework, bedtimes, diet, and exercise. Homes and schools that work together to maintain order do much toward stress management for students.
Give Yourself: In a busy, modern world, giving yourself to children is easier said than done. Yet the most important element in effective stress management for students is you. The more time you can spend with your children, the more likely they are to manage stressful matters. Play games with them. Curl up together with a good book such as “Christopher Cat’s Character Club“. Give extra hugs for no specific reason. In essence, pay attention. It’s a big step toward stress management for students in the elementary grades.
Stress Management for Students in Secondary School
Secondary school students deal with high levels of stress. Demands come from all sides: parents, teachers, peers, and possibly a boss at a part time job. Physical changes of hormones and acne cause stress, as do first dates. Homework is more difficult, and greater in quantity. The struggle for independence intensifies. Stress management for students in these higher grades is doubly important.
How can you teach stress management for students in secondary school?
Teach by Example: Teens can spot a phony a mile off. If you try to provide stress management for students while you yourself are flying in all directions, you will fail them utterly.
Homework Stress: Organizational and planning skills are often lacking at this age. A class, or at least a few lessons in this important life skill, will go far toward providing stress management for students. Make sure students have planners of some type. Take steps to make sure assignments are clear, both as to content and due dates. At home, encourage students to tackle assignments one at a time, completing one task before moving to another.
Extracurricular Stress: Few secondary students limit their lives to school and family. For most, the call of extracurricular activities is loud and clear. Add to that the fact that colleges and employers look for such on applications, and the situation becomes stressful. Choir, sports, volunteers work, etc. all take their toll. Although they may be enjoyable, these activities make stress management for students even more necessary. Time management is one of the big factors to be addressed.
Family Stress: Finally, teenagers deal with stress in the home. Activities within their personal social circle are so important to teens that they become overly dramatic when discussing them with family. The loss of a best friend, or breaking up with a dating partner can seem to be the end of the world. Parents and teachers who want to provide stress management for students facing these challenges need to first understand the intensity of the stress. Be supportive, and lend a listening ear. If words of advice are warranted, limit their number for better results.
Most adults have forgotten the stress associated with youth. Those who want to teach stress management for students must brush up so in order to bring greater empathy to their teaching.