It's no secret that adolescence is a difficult time for the young folks. The pressures of school, family, relationships, and societal expectations are enough to stress out anyone at any age.
But what if the school environment itself was designed to foster youth empowerment and emotional awareness? The following article offers ways schools can be more loving to help adolescents deal with stress.
A more loving school environment can help students deal with stress
A more loving school environment can help students deal with stress. In a school setting, if the environment is caring and supportive, students are more likely to have higher self-esteem and be open with their friends about personal struggles. They also have healthy habits, such as being well-rested, having a healthy diet and taking exercise.
A nurturing environment can help a lot of students learn how to cope with problems and even help them avoid tragedies.
Students face many stressful situations due to the challenges of growing up and the demands of school. They may struggle with issues related to school, family, relationships, health or money. Some students may even be facing bullying or academic difficulties. All of these issues can be overwhelming for students and cause them to feel stressed out.
In a school with a positive environment, teachers and students can build relationships that help teachers understand their students, and the students know their teachers care about them. When a student has a personal need, such as a problem with depression, anxiety or family issues, they will feel more comfortable approaching a teacher with this need. The teacher can then approach the parents to find out what is going on in the child's life, and offer support. With this support system in place, the child is more likely to feel cared for and loved.
Schools can create an environment where students feel loved by improving communication between teachers and administration about the needs of students. Teachers should be encouraged to talk with one another, so they can form connections with each other as well as their students. In addition, schools should have programs in place that allow teachers to better communicate with parents.
This is especially important because students with high levels of perceived stress are more likely to skip class, be absent, or drop out. These unhealthy behaviors can impact the school's ability to educate students.
Research on the effects of stress on adolescent development suggests that high levels of stress can lead to risky behavior, such as drug use and smoking. Findings like these underscore the need for schools to create an environment where students feel loved, cared for, and valued.
2. Schools can offer more outlets for adolescents to express themselves
Students are bombarded with stress all day long, so no wonder that so many of them struggle to cope. Whether it’s going to school, being teased, finding a good friend, getting involved in extracurricular activities, or trying to make friends — there is simply too much for them to handle all on their own.
The transition into adolescence is a time of change. Students are changing:
Most students will want to fit in with others, but then will go through a period where they are experimenting to find out who they are. During this process, adolescents are often seeking acceptance from their peers. It can be stressful to the adolescent if they do not fit in or if they are not accepted by their peers.
As the world becomes more complex, more opportunities arise for adolescents to feel stress. This is not their fault. It's just the way things are.
As adults, we have ways to cope with stress, like by taking a walk or talking to a friend or getting some exercise. But schools tend to be organized in ways that make it harder for adolescents to deal with stress by doing these kinds of things.
One reason for this is that schools are closed environments where the routines don't change much from day to day. There aren't many opportunities for students to try new things and get feedback about how good they are at them, which is one of the main ways people learn how to do new things.
Schools also tend to encourage competition between students rather than cooperation between them. Students seem to be evaluated constantly for how well they do instead of being able to take on challenges without worrying about how other people will judge them.
The result is that adolescents can feel stressed even if they are doing well in school because they have too little opportunity to manage the stress themselves.
Schools can teach students how to be kind to themselves and others
In school, we aim to be great students in preparation to be great employees. But too often, we miss the lessons on how to be great human beings. Aside from the academics, schools should teach students three things:
How to be kind to themselves and others
How to create a happy and healthy life for themselves
That there is something more powerful than education.
How can teachers instill these virtues? How could schools be more loving to help adolescents deal with stress? Schools are not inherently loving, but they can be. By teaching students to be kind to themselves and others, schools can help students manage stress better.
The solution is not just telling students to "love yourself." That may work for some people, but for most, it just sounds like New Age mumbo-jumbo.
Lots of students say things like, "I hate myself," and "I'm an idiot," and "I'm so stupid." It's not just depressed or self-hating students who say things like this. Lots of students have low expectations for themselves. When you are constantly criticizing yourself, it is hard to do anything well.
The real problem is how people treat themselves, not how they feel about themselves. And the solution is to teach them about kindness. Kindness is a skill, like writing or riding a bike. It takes practice. If you want someone to be kinder to others, you can tell him stories about kindness and explain why it's good. But if you want someone to be kinder to himself, then the solution is practice: he needs habits that will make him more self-assured.
We all need love in some form, so why not try to incorporate it into our schools? It won't cure all adolescence's problems, but it could help ease some of them.
It goes without saying that we can learn a lot from students, and we can also do them a lot of good through the way we interact with them. It's absolutely clear that we can improve our schools and classrooms to help adolescents deal with stress and other challenges in their lives.
It would be a step in the right direction if we were to learn how to love more, and to better show our love for our students -- not in an “affectionately cuddly” way, but in a caring, empathetic, thoughtful way.
That means being attentive to students, being open to discssing topics of concern, and showing them they are cared for and loved.
This isn’t about school becoming a support group or making life easy on young people; it’s about bringing to light some of the self-care factors that are wiped away when stress levels go too high.
So there you have it: a few ways that schools can be a little more loving to help kids deal with the stress of school. It may not be a cure for all that ails our educational system, but again, it’s a step in the right direction. And let’s face it—it’s never too late to start scraping away at these issues.