Handling high school stress

By on February 1, 2011

Photo © Elena Derevtsova


A recent talk to high school parents at the American School in Japan focused on teenage stress.


Our current generation of students is feeling greater pressure to succeed in an increasingly competitive world. The 2007-8 TELL survey of 2,000 adolescents found that academics and the future were their biggest worries. This is taking an emotional and physical toll on our youth, who are sleeping less and feeling more stress as they try to juggle many different responsibilities.


Here are a few ways parents can help:

Help them manage their schedules. When teenagers are overscheduled, we rob

them of the free time to explore their own interests and fully immerse themselves in their passions. Overscheduled teens are often forced to sacrifice family time. It is a misconception to believe that adolescents do not want to spend time with their families. Several US surveys have found that teens cited lack of family time as one of their top concerns. A recent Columbia University survey found that teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are more likely to get better grades in school.


Parents need to be aware when their children are carrying too heavy a load or need help with time management. They can also help by scheduling pleasant activities, breaks and downtime for their children.


Get enough sleep

Would you be surprised to know that studies estimate that at least twenty percent of all high school students fall asleep in class once a week? High school students need an average of 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep a night, but get an average of 6.5-7 hours. Lack of sleep negatively impacts their mood, academic performance

and health. Parents can help by making the bedroom more conducive to sleeping by minimizing distractions, such as access to the computer late at night.


Relaxation Techniques

Deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation are exercises that relax the body and mind. To learn about these techniques, audio files can be found at: http://medweb.mit.edu/wellness/resources/downloads.html.


Listen to their problems

Teenagers need to vent, which often helps them solve their problems. Parents can help by not always trying to give advice or provide solutions. Instead, look for “listening” opportunities. TELL continues to meet with teens at international schools to talk about the TELL Life Line as a safe and confidential place for teens to call and talk to a caring person.


Contact Lori Wigmore of TELL Community Counseling at (03) 3498-0231.

About TF Tribe