Parents Can Help Ease Students’ Back-to-School Stress

For many parents, the words “back to school” may evoke sepia-tinged memories of reconnecting with old friends, meeting new teachers, and claiming a familiar spot in the lunchroom. But for too many of today’s youth, returning to the classroom also means descending into a stress-fueled depression that can lead to a series of self-destructive behaviors.

“Life for many young people is a painful tug of war filled with mixed messages and conflicting demands from parents, teachers, coaches, employers, friends and oneself,” University of Minnesota professor and youth development educator Joyce Walker, PhD, wrote in an article on the UM Extension website. “Growing up – negotiating a path between independence and reliance on others – is a tough business. It creates stress, and it can create serious depression for young people ill-equipped to cope, communicate and solve problems.”

Back to School Stress

As Dr. Lynn Bufka of the American Psychological Association noted in an article that was posted on the APA Help Center website, the transition from summer to school can be a particularly tough time for young people – a challenge that can be either eased or exacerbated by the attention parents pay to the problem.

“The end of summer and the beginning of a new school year can be a stressful time for parents and children,” Bufka said. “While trying to manage work and the household, parents can sometimes overlook their children’s feelings of nervousness or anxiety as school begins.”

Almost every student experiences some level of back-to-school nervousness, but for some, these worries fail to subside once the year gets underway. Left untreated, enduring anxiety can lead to a range of unhealthy outcomes, including depression, poor academic performance, and substance abuse.

Continue reading to learn about five tips that can help parents help their children make a stress-free return to school >>

Dying to Drink: Binge Drinking Puts Students’ Lives at Risk

If Samantha Spady’s life had gone the way she intended it, she would now be a graduate of Colorado State University, and would be working on achieving her dream of owning a car dealership like her father, Rick. But life doesn’t always work out the way we hope it will.

On Sept. 5, 2004, Spady – then just starting her sophomore year at CSU – died of alcohol poisoning in a spare bedroom inside a fraternity house near the school. She was 19 years old.

“When we sent Sam off to school, we were confident she was responsible enough to take care of herself,” her mother, Patty, said in a June 12, 2006 article on the ABC News website. “We didn’t realize the environment that she was heading off into, and she just got caught up in that style of drinking.”

Learn about the culture of teen drinking and how dying from binge drinking can happen to anyone >>