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Coping with School Stress

These 5 tips can help kids cope with school stress and homework pressure -- and ease school anxiety for kids of all ages.

3. Consider whether your child is over-scheduled. continued...

5. Watch the parental pressure.

Some parents may not realize they're making school stress worse by pressuring their kids to excel. But parents who want to ease kids' stress must shift their perspective, says Pope.

"Really think about how you're defining success in your family," she says. "If the first question out of your mouth is, 'How did you do on the history test today?' then you're sending a message that you value grades more than anything else." (And worse: It could prompt academic cheating.)

Instead, Pope suggests asking: "What's the best thing that happened to you today?" "Did you learn anything exciting or new?" At first, the conversations may be awkward. "It's going to take some practice," Pope says. "But just asking the questions in that way is starting to send the right message."

It's not easy for some parents to let up. As the AAP report says: "Even parents who wish to take a lower-key approach to child-rearing fear slowing down when they perceive everyone else is on the fast track." Try to keep in mind that a few, low test grades won't torpedo your child's lifelong plans.

6. Keep the fun in childhood and teen years.

Kids often have too little unstructured time to relax and play, experts say - from a leisurely bike ride with friends to a Saturday hanging out at the beach.

"I hate to say it, but school is almost their job," Holt says of her elementary students. "And you know how stressful jobs can be. If you don't go and have fun and forget about it for a little while, you're just going to take it with you the next day. And are you going to perform as well?"

"Remember to have fun in your high school career," Hughes says, "because I see a lot of kids letting the stress consume them."

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Reviewed on June 01, 2007

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