By Lori Lite
Sixty five percent of students report that they are often or always stressed by their schoolwork and homework. Homework is a significant cause of stress for students. Homework stress can cause children and teens to experience stress-related symptoms such as headaches, difficulty sleeping, exhaustion, and weight gain. When students perceive homework as a useful learning experience, the report fewer academic worries, fewer stress-related physical symptoms, and more positive mental health. A little awareness and a few tips can reduce homework stress and turn your child’s homework into a positive stress free experience.
- Designated Study Area – Set up an area in your home dedicated to homework and studying. An area clear of chaos makes it easier to focus and feel calm. It works better than one day on the couch and another day at the kitchen table. Make sure it’s free of clutter and things that can distract children.
- Purchase a Second Set of Books – Purchase a second set of used textbooks to keep at home. This is especially helpful for children that have difficulty juggling assignments and organizing. It is also a healthy choice for your child’s spine. Online shopping on Amazon.com makes it easy and affordable.
- Set Smaller Obtainable Goals – Break it down. Set smaller goals to complete a portion of the assignment. Reward your child with a break. Let your child set a timer to alert them that their break is over. This eliminates power struggles and empowers children.
- Celebrate Small Accomplishments – Brain breaks should be taken. Blow bubbles outside in the fresh air. Do jumping jacks, run, or have a good laugh. Exercising and deep breathing brings oxygen to your child’s brain and reduces stress.
- Encourage Emotional Intelligence – Some children need absolute quiet. Some children do really well with playing relaxation music in the background. Children are empowered when they realize which environments contribute to their wellness. We’ve just created two relaxation music CDs that are very relaxing, one for children and one for teenagers. I even turn music on before my daughter walks in the door.
- Provide Guidance – Encourage children to review work each night so that when it is time for a test they are not overloaded with information. Help your child understand directions, organize, and create a time management plan. Don’t forget your teen. They have more on their plate and could use your guidance and experience.
- Positive Statements or Affirmations – Use affirmations or positive statements like, “ I can do it.” Kids smile with this “auto-affirmer”. Use it for a break or when your child is discouraged or cranky.
- Emotional & Nutritional Balance - Have a healthy snack or even a meal before homework. It is difficult to concentrate and feel balanced when hungry. I have been known to serve a full dinner at 3:30 when my kids got off the bus.
- Incorporate Stress Management Techniques – Teach children relaxation techniques. Take a deep breath in and say “Ahhhhh” to release anger and frustration.
- Stay Positive – Stay positive about and during homework. Your positive attitude is contagious.
Even with taking steps to alleviate stress, experts warn that difficult homework assignments and the pressure to complete multiple projects can cause anxiety, frustration, and even anger for kids. Homework that creates an anxiety-ridden child is defeating the overall goal of creating a well-rounded, balanced, successful child. Parents need to step in and get involved if they see this happening to their child. Be an advocate for you child. If they are overwhelmed by homework and it is affecting their quality of life, speak up. You child’s teacher will appreciate your honesty.
Lori Lite is a pioneer in the field of children’s stress management. She has dedicated her life to helping families reduce stress, anxiety, and anger. Lori created Stress Free Kids and a line of books, CDs, and lesson plans designed to help children, teens, and adults decrease stress, anxiety, and anger. Her work is considered a resource for parents, psychologists, therapists, child life specialists, teachers, doctors, counselors, and yoga instructors. She has been nationally recognized on Shark Tank, CBS News, and as a Sears parenting expert. Her sought after practical tips and articles can be found in hundreds of publications to include; Family Circle, NY Times, Web MD, Real Simple, Prevention, and Aspiring Women. Lori’s titles are also available in Spanish, Apps, and eBooks bringing stress management to Smart Boards and making classroom implementation easy. Her constant upbeat presence on Facebook and Twitter make her a real-time resource for anyone seeking practical advice for stress free living. For more information visit Stress Free Kids