School, education and teenagers

2 school boys
2 school boys
2 school boys

Even for those that believe “they’re the best years of your life”, school can be really difficult at times for teenagers. Your child may feel under pressure to perform well in exams, maintain a healthy social life, and start making tricky decisions about the rest of their lives. It’s normal for teenagers to go through rough patches at school, but if you’re worried about your child, there are things that you can do to help.

This article can help if you want to:

  • Learn about the different causes of stress at school and how these can affect your teenager
  • Find out how to spot when your child isn’t coping at school
  • Help your child manage hurdles at school more effectively.

Problems at school that your child could be facing

Anyone who has been a teenager will recall the ups and downs of being at school. When your child is having a hard or stressful time, there are some common experiences that you might like to consider:

  • Exams and study stress

    A certain amount of stress for a short period of time can be productive. When your teenager feels stressed all the time, or it’s starting to get in the way of their school work, that’s when you might need to offer some extra support. Year 12 exams in particular create a huge amount of pressure, and it’s a good idea to pass on some handy tips to help your child manage study stress. Remind them that while their exams are important, there’s more to life.

  • Friendships and relationships

    During the early teenage years, friendships become more intense and teens are figuring out how to cope with new and unfamiliar emotions.  When students are spending all day, every day with each other there is bound to be the occasional butting of heads. If you’re worried that your child is dealing with something more serious, there are steps you can take to help them. Read up about helping your teen recognise toxic relationships and peer pressure to get the info you need to help them deal with what’s going on.

  • New beginnings

    Starting at a new school can be tricky. Your child will be in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by new people. Encourage your child to get involved with co-curricular activities that they enjoy. This way they can engage in fun activities, while meeting new people. Your child can get more info from our youth site ReachOut.com on what it’s like starting out at a new school.

  • Bullying

    Whether it’s being called names, feeling excluded, or being harassed online, bullying leaves someone feeling totally rubbish. It can be really hard to deal with, and for a parent, it is not always immediately obvious that it’s going on. Get the facts on what to look out for and how you can help.

Life beyond school

Young people have many big decisions to make in the final years of school, and often feel pressured to already be on a good career path. Whether they’re interested in science, design or even taking a gap year, let your child know there is info for them to read about their options and that you’re there to support them in making the tricky decisions. Most importantly, make sure they know that there is life after Year 12, regardless of what their final mark is and what courses they do and don’t get into. Teenagers need to know that doing badly or failing at school has nothing to do with their success later in life.

Signs your teenager is stressed at school

There are some common signs to look out for if you’re worried your child isn’t coping with their stress. These include:

  • being withdrawn or disengaged
  • a loss of interest in the things they usually enjoy
  • changes in their sleeping or eating habits
  • feeling grumpy or irritable.

How to support my teenager

If your teenager has been stressed at school for a while have a chat with them about what’s going on. You might like to share some positive coping strategies with them, or direct them towards an app, like the ReachOut Breathe app, helping people manage their anxiety. If you’re still worried, talk to your GP and have a look at some other things to try. Or you can connect with other parents who are in the same situation as you, in our anonymous parent forums that cover a range of topics, issues and experiences relevant to teenagers.

Page last review by ReachOut Parents Clinical Advisory Group on