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How to help high-achieving students manage stress

Tips and insight for parents

Help high-achieving students manage stress

High achievers are kids who are goal-focused and self-disciplined. They can also stress themselves out. gives parents tips and insight into helping their kids with their stress.

From enrolling in multiple college-level classes to filling their weekly schedules with extracurricular activities, high-achieving students are propelled to undertake rigorous paths of study in the pursuit of excellence—sometimes at the expense of their own mental health. For those in highly competitive academic environments, general academic performance and the college application process can result in chronic stress

And when unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic or major natural disasters occur, temporarily transforming educational experiences, student stress can be exacerbated as teens adjust and adapt to new norms in life and in school. How can students, parents and educators work cohesively to implement strategies to help manage stress without impeding on pathways to achievement?

According to the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC), high-achieving students often have a number of characteristics that influence how they respond to stressorsBut how high achievers experience stress can depend on where their motivation comes from. If they are diligently pursuing their true passions and pacing self-determined goals, a healthy amount of stress can serve as a vehicle for self-fulfillment. But if they push themselves too hard, stress has the potential to overwhelm and become difficult to cope with. 

A student’s intrinsic drive to succeed may also be largely shaped by a number of external factors. Schools, parents and colleges all play a part.

Being forced into virtual classrooms has limited socialization, which can be a unique challenge for high achievers who rely heavily on receiving validation from their peers, Gallagher, a lifelong educator in gifted education, fellow at the Institute of Educational Advancement and member of the NAGC Board of Directors. explained. “When you’re 1 in 100 as a high achiever, it’s hard enough to find that social connection with like-minded peers who understand these shared life experiences,” said Gallagher. “To be separated from them has a tough impact.”

"Although stress can feel overwhelming in the moment, there are opportunities for students to practice self-care. Educators can help by addressing stress-related concerns for students", Kami Wagner, a counselor at HCPS, said.

There are also student-led strategies that can help alleviate some stress. Wagner and Gallagher both said that high achievers struggle with issues such as negative self-talk and working on autopilot. According to Wagner, they also have a tendency to lose sight of themselves and do not always take care of themselves when they need to. Simple self-reflection can help students determine whether they need to engage in self-care.

Read the entire article here.

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