According to a survey by the University of Phoenix, high schoolers spend an average of 3.5 hours on homework each night. Add in time for extracurricular activities, part time jobs, and a social life, and your teen likely has a jam-packed schedule. For many teens, this can lead to increased anxiety, stress, exhaustion and lack of time management skills. As a parent, you may have heard your teen say phrases like…
- “I just don’t have time to do my homework”
- “This book is too boring”
- “I’m going to fail this class anyway”
- “The teacher isn’t going to grade this assignment”
- “I’ll just do it later”
Stress from homework and other obligations can lead to sleep deprivation, headaches, feeling anxious, and procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities altogether. Having difficulty concentrating and changing eating habits (eating excessively or not nearly enough) are also linked to stress. Here are some helpful tips to reduce your teen’s stress and improve his or her overall health in the upcoming year.
1. Recognize the stressors: The first step to cutting down on stress is to determine what stresses your teen out the most. Maybe he or she is anxious about college acceptances, or making the varsity sports team. Once you and your child recognize what makes him or her feel stressed, you can find ways to address it.
2. Set realistic goals for the new year: Having your teen set goals for himself or herself is one of the most important things that he or she can do. Together, you can set short-term or long-term goals. Make sure your child asks himself or herself: “What will I gain by accomplishing this?” “How will I achieve my goals?” “What do I need to do to reach these goals?” Often, short-term goals can help your teen reach long term-goals. They can act as daily, weekly, or monthly benchmarks. They also break the long-term goal into smaller, more achievable targets that make the long-term plan less overwhelming. Be sure to have your teen write them down instead of keeping them in his or her thoughts—it will make your child more likely to accomplish the goals.
3. Find a happy medium: While schoolwork is a significant portion of your teen’s life, don’t let it become everything. Make sure your teen sets time in his or her schedule to take a break and have fun. Even if it’s just for thirty minutes, your child could listen to music, doodle in a notebook, or play a video game. Having some time for hobbies, hanging out with friends, or other activities that your teen enjoys are important too. Try to find a balance between school, sports, and relaxation time. Your child can feel less stressed simply by taking a mental break.
The upcoming new year is a great opportunity to get your teen to make changes in his or her life. Stress affects everyone, but there are ways to overcome it. Recognize what stresses your teen the most, set goals to reduce the stressors’ effects, and make time for fun activities too. With the right mindset and a solid plan, you can start the new year off on the right foot!