Carolina Parent: “Easing Your Teen’s School-Related Anxiety”

Back-to-school = back-to-stress?

As the demanding school year draws near, many teens begin to experience higher stress levels. Here are tips from Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick as to how you can help your teen get a handle on stress before it wreaks havoc on their psyche.

“Often teens feel stress about the start of the school year because their schedule is quite different during the summer,” says Richard N. Shadick, director of Pace University Counseling Center and adjunct professor of psychology, in Myrna Beth Haskell’s back to school/August column which has a circulation of over 500,000 readersand appears in a number of parenting publications across the country, including Carolina Parent.  

“They are used to fewer demands and expectations. Also, during the summer, some teens tend to lose their social network. This makes for an awkward transition and the need to get reacquainted with peers after much time has passed.”

Teens might be concerned about considerable changes as well, such as more intense academic loads or new school environments.

“Depending on the year, teens may be facing major challenges such as starting high school, applying to colleges or looking for work,” Shadick says.

Don’t underestimate stress

“Signs that your teen’s stress is getting out of hand include drastic changes in grades, personality or habits,” Shadick says. “For example, if a neat and orderly teen starts to become disheveled and disorganized, parents may need to be concerned.”

Parents can help

Shadick believes planning a structured summer is essential because this alleviates a drastic transition. He also advises maintaining your teen’s social activities and connections.

“Encourage your teen to stay in contact with their friends from school so that they will have the social support they need when they return to classes,” Shadick says. He also says it’s a good idea for parents to talk frequently with their teens about the transition from summer vacation to school, and to work with them on being properly prepared for the change.

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