Positive Parenting – SOS: How to Help Stressed Out Students

A typical day for a student: 7 hours: School, school, and more school. 3 hours: Practices, games, and other after-school responsibilities. 2 hours: Dinner (Cane’s and Chick-fil-A are making bank from our kids).

Down time (if they are lucky), and catching up on their social media (it’s here to stay). 2 hours: Homework, homework, and more homework.

Burning the proverbial candle at both ends affects a student’s health and well-being, leading to stress, anxiety, and a compromised ability to achieve at the highest level.

At the same time, not getting good grades, or the best test scores, or the prized spot on the select team leads to a perceived fear of ruining any chance of future success. The result: Stressed Out Students.

What Parents Can Do

– Less may be more. Ask your kids what they need most from you. Stressed Out Students typically feel overwhelmed and pressured by parent involvement. Asking them what you can do to best show support invites a conversation rather than a battle.

– Foster a relationship with your child that goes beyond grades. Refrain from asking them how they did on their test as soon as you see them. Even more, when they tell you their grade, ask what they did well, rather than what they missed.

Move the conversation away from grades. Instead ask what they did in their favorite class, what challenged them, what piqued their interest.

Perhaps ask what they have planned for the night, or what they would like for dinner or current events.

– Talk about your day. Our lives are interesting too. We have friends, careers, hobbies, and goals.

Sometimes students need an escape from their day rather than rehashing it.

– Allow your children to “act their age.” Kids of all ages need playtime, downtime, family time.

However, the balance is off, making tutoring sessions, late night games, and studying the priority, all of which take a toll on your child’s wellness.

– Avoid getting caught up in the hype of what it takes to get into a “good” college or believing your child has to go to a top 25 school to be successful. The truth is most Stressed Out Students are beyond qualified for any college they apply to, and they will more than likely be successful no matter where they go.

Taking one more A.P. course, or doing more community service hours, or having the perfect test score doesn’t guarantee anything but fueling more SOS.


Laura Bonzo-Sims, Ed.D. has been an educator for 25 years, serving as a college advisor, middle and high school English teacher and graduate school professor.

Katherine L. Stone, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in Lexington for almost 20 years, focusing on mental health issues that affect today’s youth and young adults.

Contact them at www.parentingparadox.org