Is School Stressing Out Your Teen?

A young student looks over her textbook at her school desk

Your teen is showing clear signs of stress. They’re having trouble sleeping. They’re not eating regular meals. They’re irritable, anxious and overwhelmed. What could be making them so stressed out?

Heavy Workload

Teens have a lot on their plates. They have a full school day with homework and projects to tackle once they get home. They have to manage that workload while doing extracurricular activities, mandatory community service, part-time jobs and chores at home. It can feel near impossible to handle it all.

What can parents do to help their teens with heavy workloads?

  • Don’t pressure them to participate in a lot of extracurriculars.
  • Organize chores around their schedules.
  • Encourage them to set boundaries with their time (for example, saying “no” to working late when they have school the next day).

Another solution that you can turn to is online schooling. Online education allows them to still get a great education and achieve the necessary credits to graduate high school, but without such rigid hours and high-pressure coursework. They can finish their courses in 4 weeks or a year, depending on their schedule.

Lack of Sleep

One thing that could be causing your teen to be stressed out is they’re consistently sleep-deprived. Getting their essential hours of sleep every single night will help them maintain their energy throughout the day, regulate their moods and focus on schoolwork.

This is easier said than done because teens’ circadian rhythms naturally push them to want to stay up late and sleep in. You might notice that your teen follows this pattern on weekends when they don’t have to wake up early in time to get to school.

What can you do to help your teen sleep better?

  • Talk to them about setting a sleep routine so that they get their essential hours every night.
  • Try not to schedule activities and appointments for them early in the morning.
  • Don’t criticize them for being tired or needing to sleep in.

If your teen is really struggling to make it through morning classes, you might want to consider online learning options. Online courses like MHF4U are accessible at any time of day. So, your teen can get their essential hours of sleep before their class.

Pressure to Attend

Too many schools reward students for perfect attendance. This sounds like a good idea — they’re rewarding commitment and dedication. But when you take a closer look, you can see how this mentality surrounding attendance is harmful.

Perfect attendance encourages teens to go to school when they are physically ill (and potentially contagious). It also encourages them to attend when they are feeling mentally unwell. Outside of the weekend, students have no opportunities to recover, which inevitably leads them to push themselves past their limits and take on more stress.

What can parents do to resolve this?

  • Stop pressuring them to achieve perfect attendance.
  • Encourage them to stay home when they feel sick or unwell, even if it’s not contagious or serious (for example, painful menstrual cramps).
  • Encourage them to take mental health days when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

Getting your teen to shoulder their stress and move forward through their regular school program isn’t a wise decision. They could burn out or break down from the pressure. They could end up doing far worse in their schoolwork, and their health and wellbeing will suffer.

Finding the right compromises will help them stay healthy and happy while doing their schoolwork.