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Helping Your Child Deal with Stress

Children are often stressed about school, whether it is an upcoming test, not understanding a homework assignment, or something mean that a friend said to them the day before. For students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or other learning disorders (LD), stress can often make school issues worse. The magazine ADDitude has published an article on its website on “Why Stress at School is Toxic to Kids with ADHD or LD.” While focused on children with ADHD and LD, the article has useful information for parents of any student.

Stress Test

The article identifies the following behaviors as good indicators that you child may be under stress at school:

The article notes that chronic stress decreases memory and cognitive flexibility while increasing anxiety and vigilance. As a result, stressed students often become defensive and protective, behaviors that often result in a student being labeled as a “bad kid.” Most students would rather be known as a “troublemaker” or “class clown” than as stupid, and consequently live up to those reputations. For children with ADHD and LD, repeated difficulties in school often result in increased frustration, leading to extra stress on these students.

Turning Things Around

Stress is not necessarily a bad thing. Moderate stress helps the brain to grow and can teach children how to handle stress in the future. It is crucial, however, to interpret the cause of stress so it can be managed effectively, turning stress into the fuel for success rather than having it erode confidence. The article provides a DE-STRESS model to help parents and children accomplish this. The steps of the DE-STRESS model are:

Be sure to check out the full article for an in-depth description of what to do in each of these steps to help your child handle their stress in a productive manner.