By Deborah Williams
A recent story on National Public Radio, about school stress reports on a troubling issue for many high-performing teens: academic stress. Both teens and their parents believe that the pressure to excel takes a heavy toll on teens’ physical and emotional health.
Clinical psychologist and public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association, Mary Alvord, asserts that parents should be worried. She concedes that some stress can be beneficial because it can motivate students, but, she says, “too much stress can backfire.” A recent parent poll conducted at NPR with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that almost 40 percent of parents say that their high school children suffer from too much stress. Twenty-four percent of those parents say that homework is a leading cause of the stress-not bullying. A student survey conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that 45 percent of them felt stressed by school.
Not surprisingly, “chronic stress can cause a sense of panic and paralysis,” Alvord says. The child feels stuck, which only adds to the feeling of stress,” but parents can assist their stressed out children by helping them to balance their lives more. That may mean dropping an advanced course so that they can manage the workload better, helping them to plan the week, etc. Time management is the key to reducing the stress.