Stress and anxiety come in many forms. Additionally, stress can motivate or prohibit the way you perceive and/or complete a task. Recently the growing demands on children in school have created circumstances where young children are growing stressed and anxious. Wait a minute, isn’t stress something that consumes adults? Isn’t this only a concern when you get older? Well, over the course of my teaching career I have noticed more and more students becoming stressed and anxious. To me, this notion seems inconceivable. What could kids possibly be worried about?
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and be a kid. I’ve imagined a world where I could go outside and play for hours without worrying about bills, work, and the pressures of being an adult. While I daydream of being a kid, I remember back to a time where I saw a student on the playground that didn’t seem like she was having fun. I quickly thought to myself, "Do I really want to be a kid again?" In this day and age, it is a much different time than the one I lived in as a kid. Now that I’m a teacher I start to think, "Am I someone who adds stress and anxiety to my students?" The simple answer is yes, but in what ways is this true. Honestly, I think the growing expectations of what students are held accountable for are at the root of this problem.
Stress is here to stay...
The pressures of stress and anxiety are not going away. As an adult, these pressures are still a reality. How do we use stress and anxiety as a positive rather than a negative? Before we dig deeper into this topic, just remember that immense pressure creates a beautiful object in the form of diamonds. First, we have to view the words stress and anxiety as positive and as an indicator that something is affecting us. We should then realize that there are some necessary steps to take to ensure stress and anxiety doesn’t overcome us. In other words, we need to be proactive and understand that we can combat stress by managing it before it gets overwhelming.
Classroom.kidshealth.org employs a strategy to help kids quell stress and anxiety through the acronym S.E.L.F. S.E.L.F. stands for Sleep, Exercise, Leisure, and Food. It makes sense to treat stress and anxiety from a holistic approach and lead a more balanced life. Furthermore, the website suggests that “it’s a lot easier to avoid stress if you take care of yourself. The best way to stay away from stress is to have a balanced life. That means making good decisions about how to spend your time each day.” So as an educator it’s important to teach students not only academics but to teach them methods to assist them with their social and emotional growth. We have an obligation to do this for the children in order for them to be confident young adults who face challenges with vigor and inner strength. In the end, stress and anxiety will always be around but won’t crack us under the pressure.
Joe is a tutor at Brainspring Learning Center in Grosse Pointe.