Supporting children’s mental health and well-being in the face of academic pressure

There is tremendous academic pressure on children right from childhood till adulthood. Academic pressure must be handled diligently by both parents and educators as it directly impacts their mental health over time. Parents and educators must not just educate themselves but they need to watch out for signs and symptoms of mental health issues of their children; they need to teach children how to manage academic stress or pressure. Mental health has long been neglected although it has a high impact on one’s overall health. Mental health is as important as physical health and children must be supported in every way possible to help deal with any kind of academic pressure.


Extreme academic stress can be because of various reasons: parents have unrealistic expectations of their child’s academic performance; children feel high pressure from their peers or teachers; or children may be pushing themselves too hard to achieve goals that are beyond their capabilities. Children are too young and naive to recognize when their mental health is affected. They are ill-prepared or are unaware of how to reach out for help or how to recognize the symptoms. They need maximum support from their parents and teachers and even friends.


We see the adverse effects of such mental pressure of academic pressure in our society. There are instances when children take extreme measures like self-harm, suicide or drugs to overcome their mental health issues. There are countless ways it negatively impacts them.


In order to help support your child’s mental health and well being, there are a couple of things that can be done by parents, teachers or close family and friends.


Spend personal time with children

Children need undivided attention from their parents or caregivers. They need to feel safe, secure, loved and cared for. To this extent, parents should take out some time from their daily schedule to fit in one-on-one time with their child. A time when they sit together, chat about various things, connect emotionally and give them assurance that they are always there for them. Speak to them and ask them about their day, their friends, their academics, their interests and so on. It is only when you are connected with your child at a personal level that you are able to help them when they need you.


Keep your eyes open for any significant behavioral changes

When you consistently connect with your child, you are more likely to pick up any kind of behavioral changes at the earliest. The faster you recognize, the easier it is to get help from a professional if required. Notice your child’s daily schedule, their emotions, moods, attitudes and habits. Any deviation that may be out of the usual could be something to watch out for. Speak to your child about those changes and get to know the root cause. Ease any kind of academic pressure by helping them take a break from the stress triggers. Plan something that you think will be fun for your child. When your child feels emotionally and mentally supported, they are in a better position to deal with mental health issues.


Encourage children to pursue a hobby or outdoor activity

From childhood, nurture your child’s interests and encourage them to pursue their interests. Hobbies like painting, singing, playing an instrument, gardening, cooking and many others are a great way to help your child do something with joy. These are hobbies that they are passionate about. It makes them happy. They act like stress busters and increase their enjoyment in life. Having no hobbies will make their life mundane and boring and if they face academic pressure, they are more likely to have deeper mental health issues.


Inculcate healthy food habits

Parents play a major role in inculcating healthy food habits right from when their child starts eating solid food. Healthy food habits have a direct impact on a child’s physical and even mental health wellbeing. Unhealthy food choices are the cause for several physical and mental illnesses. Teaching your child, the importance of eating healthy will have a lasting positive impact on lives. Children later grow up to manage their eating habits and ensure they stick to a healthy lifestyle as they are more aware of the consequences of unhealthy food choices.


Teach children to know and manage their own feelings and emotions

A child needs to be taught through real life scenarios regarding their own emotions and feelings, how to deal with them and how to reach out for help when they undergo difficult emotions. They need to be taught techniques to manage their emotions and feelings. Parents and teachers must extend their support to children when they go through tough times. Counseling or professional help through therapy are some ways that your child will be benefitted when they go through academic pressure.


Loving and caring relationships between parents and children is key for parents to extend their much-needed support to their children in times of all kinds of pressure or stress. Maintaining healthy mental health must be given top priority alongside physical wellbeing.

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