Ways Parents Can Help Their Child Deal with Academic Stress

The word “stress” has been overused and embedded in society it’s hard to find someone who’s never heard of the word or have experienced it. Although it’s pretty well-known, there are still many people who have managed stress unsuccessfully. Stress is a byproduct of the body’s psychological and physical response to situations that the brain deems to be threatening. The situation itself may not be literally threatening but the brain places it in the compartment of a threat and thus, the reaction makes it so.

In the same ways as adults feel stress, may it be from their work, their housework, or any other reason, children also find themselves in stressful situations. However, since the central part of their environment when growing up is school, it is one of the main sources of their stress, among others.

Reasons for academic stress

There isn’t just one reason to categorize stress felt by the students from school. Like everything else, stressful situations can be an accumulation of different factors that make the situation dire for the student. There are many categories in which sources of academic stress fall into such as:

1. Teacher’s personality

This may seem like a trivial matter and shouldn’t be seen as giving students stress. After all, teachers are there to teach students and provide them with guidance. However, not all teachers act the same way. Some teachers tend to be very strict towards their students or generally inconsiderate in terms of deadlines or catching up with lessons. Students may feel apprehensive dealing with these teachers and at some point, that can turn into full-blown fear and result in more anxiety.

2. Physical conditions

Another thing that will stress out students is the number of students in the class and the classroom environment. Some students may feel better surrounded by more people and have no trouble socializing, and that’s good for children and adolescents. However, it can be a source of anxiety to some and distraction for others. Having a good learning environment is one of the key factors in setting up learning to be retained the best it could. If students are not comfortable in their learning environment or if it’s not conducive for learning, then the student will have trouble concentrating in their lessons.

3. School obligations

The last thing that could be one of the sources of academic stress and the main cause is that of the pressure put in them through their tests, homework, and grades. In a competitive country such as Singapore, students are bound to strive harder to earn better grades. Pressure is placed upon them, not only from their parents and teachers, but also by themselves. Some students want to push themselves over their limit in hopes of getting more than they are capable of and that will effectively cause burn-outs, heavy stress, and even panic and anxiety attacks.

Recognizing symptoms of stress in students

There are many telltale signs of stress in children the same way adults exhibit them. In some ways they can be emotional and show sadness, panic, mood swings, and bouts of anger. Some students show cognitive symptoms such as constant self-doubt, low focus, forgetfulness, and straying or twiddling thoughts. Others may also show signs physically such as rapid heartbeat, flushing in the face, headaches, and even stomachaches. There are also many others that show a change in behavior and rely on crying or outbursts, aggressiveness and defensiveness, and even isolating themselves from a group of people such as family and friends.

Unlike adults, they not only show symptoms of stress psychologically and physiologically but it can also impact on their development and ability to manage and handle stress later on in their life.  Without the proper help and guidance, stress can be the cause of panic and anxiety for students later on. More so, they might deal with stress in the future the same way they do now (crying, outburst, self-isolation, etc.) if they are left to their own devices.

That’s why we’ve listed down some of the ways parents can help their children cope with and manage academic stress.

Talk with the child

The first tip and the most important one is talking with the child. Start by having a conversation with the student. Remember that they are still children and children tend to isolate themselves and have a hard time opening up to adults. Some children don’t even know how to approach their parents, especially with regards to talking about their struggles in class. This is why, parents should take the initiative and take the first step into finding out what’s bothering the child and how they can help.

By making the first move also, parent will be able to show to their children that they care and that they are aware that something is bothering the child. This is also a good way to get closer to the child, and possibly they will open up more also in the future.

Listen to them talk

This relates to the first tip as conversation is two way. While it will be nice to give advice to the child, parents should refrain from doing so not until the child is done talking or if he/she will be the one to ask for advice or the parent’s opinion. Sometimes, in these types of conversations, parents tend to overdo it and make the conversation into a “lesson” rather than focusing on the child’s feelings and their thoughts.

Listen to the child. Listen to what they have to say and avoid telling them off how they should feel. The best support parents can give their child in situations like this is listening to them and actually hearing the child’s concerns.

I have experienced many students confide that they don’t feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and worries with their parents as it only turns into a sermon. Sometimes, students don’t talk to their parents for guidance or advice. They only want to vent out and speak out their emotions and parents shouldn’t take that away from them by spinning it into a speech and chiding them for feeling this or that way.

Parents have to remember that children perceive things differently and adolescents more so, are still confused most of the times and are prone to sudden outbursts brought by the changes they are also experiencing.

Practice listening so that the child may feel that they can talk to their parents openly and approach them for finding solution to their problems.

Share experiences

This is totally different from the “lesson” stated in the previous tip. Storytelling or sharing the parents own experience can also be a powerful tool in tackling the student’s academic stress.

The parent can share their own stories about their life that relates to the child’s own worries and struggles. This kind of conversation allows the child to put into perspective their own stress and anxiety and understand that it’s normal. People make mistakes and they sometimes feel down. There’s no shame in that. However, it’s still also important to face these negative emotions and overcome them.

By sharing stories about the parent’s own hardships, students will be given examples of how real-life people and people that they know deal with their own struggles and rise above them.

Be positive

It’s always good to have the parents approach the situation with a positive mindset to put in perspective the other side to the coin of the child’s dilemma. However, avoid using sentences like, “Don’t be sad/angry/scared.” Saying this will not magically wipe all the negative emotions away. If anything, it will make the situations worse by indirectly “forbidding” the child from feeling the way they do.

Let the child understand that it’s okay to feel sad or angry or scared and let them speak out. Nothing will make them feel better than letting everything they have bottled up out. At the same time, be the “on the other hand” in the situation. There’s always a silver lining and sometimes the child needs some outside opinion to see that.

Encourage hobbies and interests

With all the school activities and even after school activities, it’s also important for the child to still have time for their own hobbies and interests. Hobbies are one of the healthiest forms of coping mechanisms a person can have in managing stress. As parents, you can take the time to look at the child’s schedule and determine whether they have enough time to actually do the things they like. This will not only help them deal with stress, it will also help them take a break and keep themselves from a potential burn-out.


It can be scary, especially for children, to suffer from academic stress. It can be scary for parents, too. It’s not easy to see your own child go through the hardships and struggles that seem so trivial from an adult’s perspective. However, they are children. There will be things that are serious for them that wouldn’t be for adults.

If you’re still unsure what measures to take to ensure your child gets the best education he/she deserves while not being burdened by academic stress, why not think about hiring a home tutor for your child? FamilyTutor is the best home tuition agency in Singapore with home tutors in the 28 districts of Singapore, offering over 200 subjects such as Math, Science, and many more to students from pre-school to university level. Here in FamilyTutor, we only want the best for your sons and daughters.



Carelle is a teacher who has been through the ups and downs of the teacher and learner life. She wishes for every learner to gain educational satisfaction that will help embody the people they want to be in the future.

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