Kids in high school are under a lot of pressure. There’s more competition to get into college. And more to juggle on a daily basis, including homework, extracurricular activities and a social life. All while trying to get good grades!
This pressure can be tough for any teen. And it’s even harder on kids with learning and attention issues. Here are some of the major causes of high school stress.
Worries About Keeping Up
High school comes with more choice and options, which can be great for kids with learning and attention issues. But it also comes with more work and greater demands.
Kids have to worry about grades like never before, especially if they want to go to college. They need to choose a path for after high school, whether it’s college, trade school or full-time work. And they’re doing it in a competitive environment, where everyone is aware of what others are doing.
Even on a daily basis, teens with learning and attention issues can be anxious about keeping up. For some kids, just being prepared for class can be a challenge. They may struggle to stay on top of assignments, finish projects on time and remember to bring work and materials to school.
Afterschool activities offer real benefits to teens. But they also leave them with less time to spend on studying and homework. Kids who don’t have good organization and time-management skills can easily become overwhelmed and feel that they’re falling behind.
Fear of Failure
With the increased academic pressure in high school, many teens can start to worry that they won’t succeed. That’s especially true of teens with learning and attention issues. Even if they study hard, they may fear they’ll blank out on the information when they take a test. They may be afraid that their teachers don’t like them, that they’ll fail their classes or that they won’t get into a good college. Sometimes the fears extend beyond high school: What if I can’t succeed in life?
Planning for the Future
In high school, kids have to start thinking about what kind of career they want to pursue. This can be a scary prospect, especially if they don’t really know what they want to do or what they’re good at. Kids who have an IEP will go through a formal process to plan the transition. That can help them focus on the future and think about what they might want to do.
Social situations can also be a source of stress for teens. They can feel pressure to fit in, to be popular and to have a lot of friends—whether these are real friends or not. And as teens become more independent, they may find themselves in new and possibly risky situations where they need to make tough choices.
Maybe they’ll be at a house party where other kids are drinking and smoking pot. What should they do—go along with the crowd to fit it, or risk being judged or ridiculed by choosing to leave? Those kinds of decisions are very stressful.
What You Can Do
High school can create many pressures, but there are ways you can help your teen manage the stress. If she’s particularly anxious about what to do professionally, you might suggest she take a career interest test. If she’s worried about not keeping up, you can arrange a meeting with her teachers or case manager.
The most important thing you can do is talk to your child about how school is going and how she’s feeling. If you’re concerned that she is overly anxious, you might want to talk to her doctor or consider looking into professional help. You can also check out Parenting Coach for expert behavior advice.