Performance stress in primary school

Is your child stressed out and anxious before an exam or sports competition? Could they be experiencing too much performance stress?

Instead of trying to find who’s to blame, let’s try to help your child. Here’s how.

We might have thought that children were sheltered from stress, but they are not. Living with stress can have consequences on children’s lives and relationships.

Just look at the child’s busy agenda. Between school, extracurricular activities and Saturday morning classes, they could feel exhausted... understandably so! A Blackberry with that? When we take a look at their oversized and overloaded school bag, it’s hard not to feel sorry for them. Do they have too much on their little shoulders?

We tend to minimize the impact of situations that seem foolish to us but can create a lot of tension for a child. If these stress factors add up and are not dealt with, it can become highly problematic.

School, parents, and more!

In some families, children are forced by their parents or other family members to take part in an activity (sport or cultural) without ever having shown interest in that particular activity. What’s worse, these kids are not only encouraged to participate but also to win…

With school, it’s not easy for a child to go to class and see that the teacher’s attention has to be shared with more than 20 other children. If the child is used to being praised for every little drawing they do, they could have a hard time accepting that another child is doing better than they are.

Discipline and competition often bring out an important load of stress to children, and if parents push them to excel in school, the situation could worsen.

Stress can be good or bad. Stress is positive when it acts as a stimulus to get better in a spirit of healthy competition. However, it becomes negative when it is so overwhelming to the child that it worsens their performances.

The key to avoiding performance stress is to give as much importance to the effort as to the result. Don’t forget that your child, no matter their abilities, will always need your encouragement. It’s the best motivation for them!

As parents, we must be able to realize when we are asking too much of our children. It’s good to push them to do better, but we must never let them feel like we love them only when they succeed. By paying attention to them, we will know what line not to cross. Otherwise, we could see them get eaten away by stress, which can, unfortunately, lead to depression.

React…on their level!

Children are like us. We never know how to deal with stress. The source of stress and the situation play an important part in the way we react. The child can be frustrated, angry, anxious, scared or sad and experience a major fall in self-esteem. Stressed out kids often show tics or other signs of nervousness (appetite and sleeping problems, hard time falling asleep, pale skin, etc.)

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