How to Prioritize Mental Health When School Work Is Overwhelming

Published September 15, 2020

It’s the end of the day and your child is trying to work on their schoolwork. Of course, you’re trying to help them, but they just aren’t getting it and both of you are starting to lose your cool. Does this sound familiar? It’s a common scene in households with school-aged children.

This dynamic is tough enough when there’s only homework to get through after school. These days, however, you may be doing this song and dance all day every day doing due to opting into online learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. When you’re home together all day, forced to take on the roles of parent and teacher, fuses can get pretty short. Even with students having access to their teachers virtually, there’s still a lot extra on your shoulders.

The first thing you need to know is this: it is completely normal and okay for both you and your child to feel overwhelmed by school work. It is not okay to jeopardize your mental health to get this work done.

When you or your child, are feeling frustrated, when you feel you’re about to lose it, it’s okay to walk away. Taking a break for your mental health is the right thing to do. Here’s how to make the call.

For Parents

If working on school work with your child gets to the point where your blood starts to boil, then it’s okay to take a time out. Gently let your child know you’re feeling frustrated and you need to take a breather.

Be sure to make the most of this time. You don’t want to stew in your frustration; you have to be fresh and ready to get that work done when you go back to the table, so do something recuperative with your time-out. You could go for a walk, just step outside for some fresh air, or sit somewhere quiet to meditate. Do whatever you need to do to calm down and feel less overwhelmed.

Bonus points if you and your child can do this activity together.

Once you do come back to help again, make sure you have a plan of action to get past the tough part. Be sure to calmly communicate your plan with your child as well. Your little one may be feeling on edge when you return. It’s helpful to let them know that you’ve cooled off, you’re ready to get back to it, and you have a plan to help them do their best.

For Kids

Most kids don’t want to do school work anyway. Adding an agitated parent isn’t going to make them enjoy school work or help them understand it.

Your child just isn’t going to get much done until they feel less overwhelmed. As soon as you realize lesson time is going nowhere, it’s time to take a break. Taking a break from school work isn’t giving up. It’s allowing your child to rest and get in the right into the mindset to tackle something challenging.

This is how you teach your child how to prioritize mental health for life-long wellness and success.

Your child may need some suggestions about things they can do to de-stress, or they may not. While you don’t want to force anything specific, it’s important to let your child’s brain rest during this time. That means no TV, phone, video games, etc. Your child may need to go for a walk, get some fresh air, or even just go into their room and figure it out themselves for a while.

Before your child leaves their study area, be sure to communicate clear expectations by setting a return time and giving an idea of how you’ll approach the work after a break.

Whether it’s you or your child who gets frustrated by school work, neither of you will be productive if your emotions are getting the best of you. Allow yourself to take a mental break and come back to it when you’re in the right frame of mind.

Our scholars are performing at their peak both online an in class. Why? Because we give our families all the tools they need to succeed.

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