Reducing the ‘Toxic Stress’ of Starting High School
The transition from middle school to high school is a big step, so most students get overwhelmed and stressed as they go through the process. This can cause them to be less successful at school, and it can cause their grades to drop significantly. So, how do we reduce this stress?
What is the ‘Toxic Stress’ of Starting High School?
Each student has a different mindset and a different way of handling stress, but it is no secret that the start of freshman year is a rough transition for most high school students. These stress levels can actually be tracked by looking at the hormone cortisol of students, which is also commonly referred to as the ‘toxic stress’ hormone.
Students with a fixed mindset, meaning that they believe fixed traits cannot change, were found to have higher stress levels than students with a growth mindset, which is an individual that believes skills can be developed. This is because students with a fixed mindset were not prepared for the drastic changes of high school, which made them not want to adjust their ways of learning.
Why is Starting High School Stressful?
Even though many middle schools try to create an environment that prepares students for a high school setting, it is usually much easier and less stressful for students, so when they get to the actual high school, they are usually hit with a surprising amount of work.
When starting high school, students are given more difficult assignments and a larger workload. This alone is a huge factor as to why students get so stressed. Since the work is more difficult, they have a fear of failure and may work themselves too hard while trying to do something that shouldn’t even take much time.
Plus, high school is also more stressful socially. Teenagers work so hard to fit in and be popular, which can often distract them from focusing on their classwork. Students work hard to be someone they’re not just to fit in, which can easily become exhausting.
On top of everything else, high school is a step closer to college. A lot of high school students still have no idea what they want to be when they grow up, so trying to decide where to go to college can be a huge cause of stress for them, even if it is still years away.
How Can We Fix This?
There is no way to remove the stress of every student completely, but there are ways that parents and teachers can help to reduce the stress of students. The easiest way to do this is to make sure you are accessible to them.
However, many parents are so worried about reducing the stress of their kids that they hold them back and don’t allow them to be challenged enough. But no matter what, there will be challenges in life that kids have to face, so instead of holding them back, the best thing to do is to be there to help students face these challenges.
Yes, high school can be stressful for incoming freshman, but with the help and support of those around them, they can ease into the process better. Stressful situations are much easier to get through when you have someone by your side to help out. Parents need to teach kids that change is okay and teach them how to adapt to their new high school schedule.