Now that school has begun another year, it’s time to talk about the stress that enters your students’ lives. School is stressful. But we can help them manage it by building support and fostering life skills that will help them into adulthood.

Welcome back to Beyond the Pew. In this video, in our back to school series, we’re gonna be talking about stress when it comes to our teenagers and their school performance or their school activities.

Stress in Their Lives

We often take prayer intentions down at our youth nights to ask the kids what do you want God to be present in, what do you need prayers for. The number one thing we get prayer intentions for is about school stress, whether it’s an exam they have coming up or a project that they’re worried about or maybe something activity or organization related, that they have a chair test coming up or nominations for something, there’s a lot of anxiety around these things. And part of me thinks that’s normal because this is where they spend the majority of their time and where a lot of their attention and activity is directed and focused. But the high levels of anxiety are a little alarming at times and I think there’s something that we definitely need to pay attention to.

Several years ago the American Psychological Association did an entire survey on teenagers and stress, and they found that a lot of teenagers report to be more stressed than adults, which is concerning. So we need to look at these things and figure out how we can help them navigate this stressful time so that the stress doesn’t over arch this entire season of their life.

Reframe It

I think a way that we can do that is to really speak truth into this stress, to reframe it, and to help them during times where they’re anxious about these things. I know that a lot of times a way that youth can become stressed is because somehow they start to believe that their worth or their value is based off of how they’re performing at school, which sounds really silly but I think it’s a real problem that happens and occurs in the minds of our teenagers. So they might think something like okay well if I get a C on this test and that means I’m a C as a person. Or if I don’t make first or second chair, I’m a terrible musician and I might as well not even be in the band. Or if I don’t make the lead then nobody’s gonna come see me and I might as well just not have tried out to be in this play. Again, that might sound silly, but I know that I had a similar belief when I was in high school.

a lot of times a way that youth can become stressed is because somehow they start to believe that their worth or their value is based off of how they’re performing at school

I thought that because my mom didn’t come to a lot of my school events that she didn’t care about me. That was not true at all. But that was a real thing in my mind. I don’t think I would have articulated it that way, but it did affect my relationship with her a lot. So again I think that’s where a lot of this stress is coming from, that our youth are finding their worth and their value in how they do in these things, or they think that the way that we love them or the way that we will interact with them is dependent upon their school performance. We know this is not true, but we have to be very honest and very persistent in reminding them of this.

Things We Need to Say

So some phrases that might sound kind of cheesy but that need to be said because they’re true, something like you know what I know you’re worried about this test but whether you get an A or not I still love you. Or you know what you might not be on the starting lineup for the basketball team but I’m still your biggest fan and I will still be there cheering for you even so. These kinds of statements to help them realize that our love for them is unconditional and it’s not dependent upon their school performance. I think that as a starting point is huge and the most important thing.

Engaging the Stress

Some other ways that we can help them navigate this stress, we can engage it. So if we see that they’re anxious about an exam coming up we can just ask them about it. You know what you’ve been talking about this math test all week long, tell me a little bit more about that. Why is that making you so nervous? Why are you so anxious about it? Or you’ve been really talking about this nomination, tell me more about it. What’s going on with this? Why are you stressed about it because you seem kind of stressed. So we can engage it. We can help them with it. So you’ve been studying really hard for this. I know you’ve been putting in a lot of time and a lot of work. How can I help you with it? Do you need me to quiz you? Do you need to read lines for this tryout that you have coming up, because I’m here to support you in what you’re doing with this thing.

Redirect Them

We can also redirect them so if they’re really down about a certain subject like I’m terrible at chemistry. And every time there’s a chemistry test, it’s just like the whole world falls off its axis. We can interact with them and say okay I know chemistry’s not your best thing, but remember last week when you got a really good grade on your English paper that still happened. Remember that your whole life is not dependent upon this chemistry test that you have coming up.

Encourage Them

And then the last thing that we can do is just really encourage them to be present to their struggles, to say you know what you’re doing a great job. I know you’re worried about it, but if you do as well on this test if it’s related at all to how much time you’ve put studying into it, you should do fine. I believe in you. You can pray with them, just finding ways to bring them hope and to let them know that you’re with them in these difficult times, those can be real game changers when it comes to helping our kids navigate stress in school.

From us at Beyond the Pew, God bless.

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