As the end of the school year approaches, many teenagers are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety. Year-end exams, with their weighty significance, often lead to increased pressure and worry among adolescents. And, for parent’s, it’s not always easy to know how to help your teenagers to manage their stress in a resourceful way.
Year-end exams can be stressful for several reasons and, before planning strategies on how to help your teenager, it’s important to understand the sources of their anxiety. Academic pressure – the fear of failure and the desire to excel academically, can lead to stress. Comparing themselves to their classmates, can create a sense of competition and pile on more stress. And uncertainty – about the future, with questions about career paths, college, and independence looming large, is another big contributor to teenage stress and anxiety levels.
Parents can help their teenagers in several ways, including:
- Open communication: Create an environment where your teenager feels able to talk to you openly about their fears and anxieties. Let them know that it’s normal to be stressed and that you’re there to listen to them without judgment.
- Healthy study habits: Help your teenager to establish a study routine that includes regular breaks, healthy snacks away from their study area, and adequate sleep. A properly nourished body and well-rested mind is more focused and better equipped to cope with anxiety.
- Realistic expectations: make sure that your teen understands that you place a higher value in effort over perfection. Encourage them to do their best without unrealistic expectations of perfection.
- Techniques to calm anxiety: Introduce your teenager to practices such as mindfulness and breathing exercises to calm their anxiety during high-stress periods.
- Balanced lifestyle: Make sure your teenager has time for hobbies, physical activity, and socialising. A balanced lifestyle can alleviate stress and reduce feelings of anxiety.
- Professional help: A life coach or counsellor who specialises in working with adolescents can be helpful if your teenager’s anxiety becomes overwhelming.
- Unconditional love: Remind your teenager that your love and support are not dependent on their academic performance. Make sure they understand that your love is a constant, regardless of their grades.
- Goal setting: Help your teenager to stay focused and motivated without feeling overwhelmed by encouraging them to set realistic goals for their exams.
- Provide perspective: Help your teenager to understand that, although exams are an important part of their education, the exams don’t define their worth or future success.
Your goal is not to eliminate stress and anxiety entirely, but to teach your teenager how to manage it effectively. A lesson which will set them up for success in their academic and personal lives.