Recent student suicide attempts are highlighting the dangers of putting too much pressure on kids to achieve good grades...
Motivating kids to pursue academic excellence is admirable, but how much pressure is too much? After a schoolgirl jumps from a building in China, questions are being raised whether the education system can be overwhelming for kids.
This is especially so because, barely a year before this incident, a Chinese student took his own life on the day of his college entrance exam. The same holds true back home here in Singapore, where cases of student suicide are not rare.
Schoolgirl jumps from a building: Can school pressure drive kids to suicide?
According to a report by Medium, the girl’s mum blames her daughter’s school for putting too much pressure on their students.
The 12-year-old girl jumped out of a 15th floor window after being unable to finish her homework over the Winter break.
Thankfully, the 6th grade student landed on an air cushion and only suffered an injury to her ear.
How to help children deal with academic stress
There’s a fine line between motivating kids to study hard and demanding that they get high grades.
How can you tell if your child is overwhelmed by school? Though depression and hurting themselves are obvious red flags, some are less obvious. Even joking about having too much to deal with should be taken seriously by parents.
Here are important reminders for mums and dads to help kids cope with school pressure:
1. Teach them to value the process, not just the results
Assure them that it is okay to make mistakes. Learning is a continuous process. It’s not just about getting high marks – though those are important. It should be about growing and learning.
This way, they will learn to love learning and not merely go about it for the grades.
2. Assess if they are over-scheduled
According to Denise Clark Pope, PhD of Stanford University, overscheduling is one of the major sources of stress for students.
Even young students can get caught up with trying to keep up with a “hurried lifestyle” involving studies and extracurriculars.
Is your child stressed by their schedule? Try to check what you can give up.
3. Observe if you are pressuring them, too
Be objective, mums and dads! Kids take to heart even stray comments about, for instance, how they need to keep their grades up.
Pushing them to be excellent isn’t wrong, but it should be coupled with the right tools, motivation, and most importantly, support.
4. Empower them with time-management skills
Teach them how to manage their tasks efficiently. Discourage cramming or procrastination because it leads to poor habits as an adult.
Delores Curry, a California high school counselor recommends to WebMD that parents help kids do “something every night instead of cramming at the last moment.”
5. Encourage self-care
Teach them to prioritise rest and caring for their needs, too! This goes beyond the physical; it concerns their emotional and mental health as well.
Parenting expert Susan Stiffelman tells the Huffington Post that it’s important for students to establish “means to cope with stress, and that includes healthy food, non-harmful substances, sleep and, down time.”
School counselor Joy Holt and Dr. Pope both agree that frequent family bonding can help ease school stress. So make time for good conversations over good meals, mums and dads! It can make all the difference.
6. Let them be kids!
Above all, remind them not to take things too seriously. Childhood and even their teen years should be a fun time of making memories and establishing friendships.
Encourage them to take breaks, to bond with family more, and not to be too hard on themselves.
There is a way to be firm but loving, mums and dads! By giving them guidance and love, your kids will be all the more motivated to reach for excellence.