September is such a great month. Temps cool down and kids go to school. About school: the first few weeks have passed for many of us. How is your student coping? Are you starting to see signs of stress, perhaps around organization? Now is a great time to check in with your student. If your student is starting to seem overwhelmed, let’s tackle that now and decrease stress.
- Is there a pattern to the stress?
- Is there a routine that could be tweaked? For example, is the morning rushed and stressful? Can you get the backpack ready the night before? Can we put more reminders in the planner to block out time for assignments and projects?
- Is there a class that seems to increase stress? What might drive that? Could it be a lack of structure, a need to ask for clarification?
- I once had a student struggle in Freshman Comp. The problems started basically in week 1, perhaps week 2. The student needed to ask questions in class, or during office hours. That didn’t happen. The student’s stress then increased weekly until the end of the semester, and he nearly failed the course. It all could have been avoided by asking some basic questions during week 1, including “how do I submit my paper online?”
- Is the social environment creating stress? Does your student need to update social skills to match a more mature or advanced environment?
- I watched a student attempt to finish a seemingly simple task related to paperwork (name, address, phone, and a few “easy” questions regarding life experiences). I thought this to be a 10 minute task. I then watched the student become a ball of stress, tripping up on the first question and nearly melting down. I asked the student to read the question to me. He didn’t understand what the question was asking, and didn’t think to ask for clarification. Once I translated the question, he was off to the races. He did, however, spend a solid amount of time distracting himself, placing other tasks ahead of this problem solving, tugging on his hair, checking his email, checking his phone, and generally failing to ask clarifying questions. Updating skills to ask for help in a timely manner seems mighty important!
- Is the stress a function of transition? Does your student need a bit of time to adjust to a new schedule or set of classes? Can you wait it out, or does the stress need to be addressed sooner than later?
- Sleep, food, exercise, leisure, meds.
- Check all your major systems. Is your student getting some protein with breakfast? What about sunshine and exercise? Timely downtime? Are meds being taken properly? Need a refill or dose adjustment?
- We all need balance. While life might not balance daily, it should balance over the course of the week or so. Sunshine and exercise are important. Fruits and veggies are important. Social and leisure are important (and not necessarily the same).
It is easier to resolve stress and feeling overwhelmed if you can see the pattern that drives it. Check back next time for lowering stress and feelings of overwhelm.