Here is our tip sheet for parents on the subject of coping with stress and anxiety in high school.
HIgh school is a time of change for our children during which they may suffer from stress, anxiety, and periods of depression. Their bodies are changing physiologically and their brains are developing. Hormones are kicking into action. Physically and socially they are on their last jump into adulthood.
Our children have become young adults. They have minds of their own, are growing up, and are learning to be independent. But they are also trying to live up to your hopes and expectations. They want to do it all by themselves – but need your support. The dynamics have changed from middle school and lower school days. It is all about independence, dignity, respect, growing up and learning to become resilient and self-reliant in society.
Parents play an important role in helping their children during these high school years. But the rules, regulations and limits that applied in our day, have changed. So the parent’s playbook must change too. Here are some hints that we have compiled to help you.
How to recognize the symptoms of stress and anxiety
- Change of appetite and eating habits
- Change in sleeping patterns or lack of sleep and tiredness
- Mood changes which might include silences, irritability, lack of communication, and outbursts
- Cutting school or classes
- Change of social circumstances including withdrawal, change of friends, not taking part in the usual activities
- Changes in health – stomach aches
- Changes in appearance or hygiene habits
- Long periods of worry and negative self esteem, concern about not being good enough to get into a club, team, or college
- Difficulty thinking, distractions, difficulty concentrating, procrastinating making decisions, internet addiction
- Vaping, alcohol, and substance use
How you can help
- Are your expectations for your child’s academic grades, performances, and social life reasonable? Do you ever show disappointment with a result? Be flexible with expectations. All parents worry about their children’s future and encourage them to perform well in school so that they can get into a good college and have a successful life. But be flexible with your goals. Ultimately, your child’s mental health, happiness, and safety is the goal.
- It is OK to for our children to make mistakes on the way to growing up. You can learn from mistakes. Mistakes can make you a better person.
- Let your child manage high school, teacher communications, social life issues. Let them own it. Empower them and play back up to that role. Show that you are confident in their abilities to deal with high school. But also let them know that if they ever need help you can make suggestions without taking over the whole process.
- Be a role model. Show your child how you deal with unexpected problems and stress in your own life and share your experiences without making it into a lecture. Teach and model problem solving skills, resilience, adaptability and flexible thinking. Teach them to ask for help from a teacher, friend, adult or parent.
- Your goal is to help your child grow into a resilient human being who can deal with the stresses of college, relationships, work, and – perhaps – one day parenting their own children.
- Be flexible – Learn how to adapt to changes and teach your child this life skill.
- Learn to listen and keep your door open so that they will come to you and share their concerns – about anything. Learn to listen to hard things without feeling hurt.
- Keep the doors open – they need you. What you are doing now will help make sure your adult child will come to you in future and will enjoy keeping communications open.
- Try and share time together but not speak about school (unless they bring up the subject). Life is much more than high school and grades.
- The future is all about keeping open the lines of communication – a good relationship and open communication will be a joy to you in future.
If your family or child needs support
Please reach out to our excellent staff. All communications are kept confidential. College applications do not get to see any of this information.
Jessica Chock-Goldman, our licensed clinical social worker (staff directory PDF)
Angel Colon, Program Coordinator of Stuyvesant’s SPARK
If you are interested in learning more and getting involved in SPARK, then please come by and visit our office in Room 726 or contact us via email: firstname.lastname@example.org We definitely look forward to meeting you!
SPARK is an additional counseling service/support program where you can meet and assist others in a warm, friendly, confidential atmosphere.
SPARK has many positive initiatives. But an important component is in making SPARK a place where any student who is having individual challenges in school, at home or is feeling socially or academically isolated can be helped. We understand the competitive nature at Stuyvesant and know how stressful it can be. We’re here for you everyday. For anyone to drop by and talk to a counselor or a peer adviser about anything and receive individual assistance and guidance.
Multiple sources used for this tip sheet. The experience of parents, shared communications with parents over years. The sage wisdom of our principal and teachers. Angel Colon. Jessica Chock-Goldman. Tracy Ross. Students Amanda Li and Alisa Chen. To name a few.
Managing Stress and Anxiety by Tracy Ross, Ackerman Institute for the Family (PDF)