“My child’s standardized test scores are high and they qualified for advanced courses, so why are they struggling in their classes?”
Does this question sound familiar?
Cognitive intelligence does not always align with academic performance and emotional intelligence. Success can be defined in many ways and often is achieved when an individual reaches a goal or accomplishes a task. School-aged children must practice a balance of well-being in order to obtain success in their lives.
The average high school student is at school about 30 hours a week and about 20 to 25 of those hours are engaged in classroom learning. After-school activities such as extracurriculars, chores, jobs and homework can add extra hours to a student’s day. In addition, teens want to achieve social status and maintain fulfilling relationships with friends.
As your child ages, they begin to increase their responsibilities, which may include choosing their class schedule and activities. The pressures of getting into their college of choice may cause your child to have difficulty creating an adequate balance in their schedule and they may have difficulty “staying afloat.”
Signs that your child’s schedule lacks balance can include:
• Emotional agitation, sadness or perfectionistic tendencies that begin to affect family and social relationships
• Struggles with performances such as test taking or extracurricular performances/competitions
• Procrastination on school work and responsibilities
• Difficulty initiating tasks because their “to-do” list is too overwhelming
• Changes in eating or sleeping patterns as a result of their busy schedule and stress
• Difficulty managing their time and keeping up with their studies
• Grades don’t reflect their ability or they begin to fall behind in school
Tips to help your child create a balance of well-being:
• Schedule downtime (unstructured time where your child can fill how they see fit)
• Engage in family time where your child does not have specific responsibilities to fulfill (a movie night, game night or family outing)
• Schedule one afternoon a week or one day a month where family members put their phones away and spend time with one another (no cheating)
• Set limits for electronics use (as a family)
• Assist them in defining priorities for the week
• Reduce the emphasis on your child’s grades and ability to qualify for high-level courses
• Praise their effort and growth
• Model self-care and engage in downtime yourself. Choose healthy lifestyle options and teach your child by example
• Help your child maintain a balanced lifestyle including physical activity and healthy eating and sleeping habits
• Teach your child how to say no and maintain healthy boundaries and model the same
Lisa Aguilar is a licensed school psychologist and an educational consultant and coach for Action Consulting and Therapy in Geneva.