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Stress Management for Students

“Mom, I’m, too sick to go to school today.” We joke about feigning illness to avoid school, but the illness is not always feigned. Stressors that students face each day can be just as detrimental as those faced by their parents. Yet stress management for students is not as readily available as is stress management for adults.

Charts purporting to show “who is affected by stress” list occupations. On a scale of 1 to 10, police officers rate 7.7 and teachers rate 6.2 – but students are not rated. “Student” is not considered an occupation. Online searchers type in a phrase such as “teachersjob + stress reduction” and get a fair response. Type in “stress management for students”, and the response is far less.

Too Sick to Go to School?

Stressors can and do make students sick. Stressors call forth the “fight or flight” response, and the body immediately prepares. It pours forth extra supplies of adrenalin for short-term survival. It puts functions like bowel activity on temporary hold. It redirects blood to muscles. It dilates the eyes’ pupils in order to detect slight movements. The heart speeds up its delivery of oxygen to muscles. All this and more occurs in a matter of moments so we can fight or “run like crazy”.

If the body prepares, and a student sits still, the body must undo its preparations. Lacking opportunity for stress management, it can become ill.

Sick Enough to Excel at School?

Most students find that eustress (good stress) is a positive aide in school. Certainly, too much stress causes some students to freeze during exams, but appropriate amounts of eustress can coax the best from students.

While stress management for students must be geared to specific stressors, some of them are actually eustress stressors – or could be.

Consider the following seven (7) stressors.

1. Academics: Academic pressure can be distress if it is allowed to become such. Through stress management, however, it can be eustress that urges to greater accomplishments. In this case, stress management for students demands building on academic successes. Awarding peak performance can encourage greater academic excellence.

2. Dating: Student life involves frequent focus on dating, so stress management for students will need to address both the eustress and distress of the dating game.

3. Environment: The school environment can be a distress if students are left to handle it on their own. Planned activities geared toward initial adjustment, and intermittent periods of relaxation can go far toward introducing eustress into your stress management for students.

4. Extracurricular: Many students naturally seek out extracurricular activities, and find them a source of eustress. Others feel pressured to engage in them, and suffer distress instead. Stress management for students requires careful selection of activities, and balance among these activities, school life, family life, and part-time jobs.

5. Peers: Peer pressure can be a source of eustress or distress, depending on how readily students give in to it. Students who want stress management will want to establish firm convictions, and stick to them.

6. Time Management: Stress management for students must address scheduling, since a lack in this area can impinge on most or all other areas of a student’s life. Easier for some than for others, a habit of carrying a daily planner and adhering to it can drain away much of the distress.

7. Parents: Sadly, parents themselves are to blame for a portion of student stress. It is well known that students, as they get older, seek greater degrees of independence from their parents. This is necessary if they are to become mature adults. At the same time, the struggle can causes great distress on both sides of the equation. If you want success from efforts at stress management for students, you will need to shine a spotlight on the eustress of the parent/student relationship.

Students can do much for their own stress management simply by eating a balanced diet and getting sufficient sleep. They can add to that by maintaining a schedule, including regular waking and sleeping hours.

The Best First Aid?

Exercise is probably one of the best means of stress management for students. It is also simple. When feelings of total helplessness hit, exercise feels like a helping hand. When students feel like striking out at anyone or anything near them, exercise redirects those feelings into appropriate channels. When students feel that their brains have stopped functioning, exercise can re-start the engines.

These 2 simple exercises provide first aid stress management for students.

1. Get up from your seat, walk briskly to a washroom, and splash your face with cold water. Splash it six or seven times, and include your eyes.

2. Leave your seat, and go for a five-minute walk. Consciously relax your muscles as you walk, and breathe deeply in and out – as deeply as you can without strain.

Long-term stress management for students should include a regular, daily exercise regime. Exercise tends to vent emotions like frustration and anger. Exercise also reduces the adrenaline triggered by distress, and produces endorphins that elevate eustress.

If you are a student, or are providing stress management for students, make regular exercise a priority.

How Vietnamese International Schools Are Failing Millennial Teens

The tension between the traditional attitudes of Asian parents and the reality faced by today’s Asian teens has always been a tightrope international schools in the region have had to walk – and never more so than now.

Now there is a real and widening generation gap on a huge range of issues, from smoking, drinking, underage sex, teen pregnancy, LGBT students, teen relationships, porn-watching and the Internet.

Here in Vietnam, a country I have called home for the best part of 17 years, my job as an English teacher puts me on the frontline in the battle between the generations that is currently being waged in homes and schools across Southeast Asia.

Middle-class Asian parents, brought up during the austerities of post-Cold War poverty, have worked hard to give their children a better life. Convinced by traditional Confucian ideas on the importance of education, they have encouraged their children to study hard, take extra classes, complete mounds of homework and get good grades, while equipping them with iPhones, laptops and all the latest mod cons, in an effort to give their children what they themselves could never have or afford when they were younger.

However, all this comes at a cost. Long hours spent running businesses selling knocked-off Chinese-made T-shirts in sweatshop premises located on busy streets seething with motorbike traffic has led to today’s modern Vietnamese teens being brought up by the rented housekeeper, who cooks and cleans for them while Mum and Dad are out earning money.

So while middle-class parents can now afford to send their kids to mid-budget “international” schools that offer a mix of the Vietnamese National Curriculum and a hastily slapped-together, devoid-of-all-credit-points English program of English, Maths and Science taught by expat foreign teachers, their children have grown up surrounded by modern millennial attitudes towards issues that would have been shocking in their parents’ day.

Allowed out in the evening with no adult supervision, alone in dealing with the stresses of upcoming exams, these teens are now frequenting shisha lounges, smoking weed, indulging in casual, no-strings-attached underage sex, getting pregnant at weekend parties at friends’ houses, watching Mia Khalifa on Pornhub and drinking vodka Cruisers during homework time, among more normal things, such as listening to K-Pop, learning to dance hip-hop and playing basketball.

What have these international schools done about this? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. On a quest to gain accreditation with international bodies such as the Council for International Schools (CIS), there has been a tightening-up of school rules, where students are punished more often for minor infractions, while, at the same time, schools endeavour to look the best they can externally, making cosmetic changes to curriculum design by putting foreign teachers into “head of subject” positions without any increase in remuneration and an expectation to put in more and more hours of free time in a drive to attain “international standards”.

However, more serious for the students is the way the schools ride roughshod over the individual rights of teens. Schools in this budget range are way more expensive than Vietnamese state schools, while at the same time being far lower in quality than the ultra-exclusive, “American high school in Vietnam” experience offered by IB World Schools to the Vietnamese super-rich, where a year’s tuition runs upwards of $20,000 per annum. Such mid-market schools as the one I worked in are terrified of modern teen issues, gossip and scandal, as these risk alienating the existing customer base of older-generation Vietnamese parents. Internal scenes of occasionally unruly classrooms lead to student mobile phones being snatched away by Vietnamese teaching staff, “officially” because carrying mobile phones to school is against the rules but actually because the school is terrified that the students will upload the photos to Facebook for parents and the whole world to see.

Perhaps the most serious threat yet to student safety in the school where I worked came in January 2016, when, after one schoolboy attempted suicide the month prior after splitting up with his girlfriend, the school announced to students that from now on, all their Facebook accounts will be stalked and if there is any sign that they have boyfriends or girlfriends, the school will telephone their parents, claiming that their grades are suffering. This has since led to a number of students receiving physical and verbal abuse from parents. Of particular concern is the student LGBT community, since such a policy is likely to force LGBT students to “come out” to their parents before they are ready, possibly putting them at risk of serious domestic violence and abuse.

Tension is nearing breaking point as the traditions of the older generation come face-to-face with a new generation who have no major hang-ups on casual sex, Internet dating, porn-viewing, recreational substance use and hanging out with their LGBT friends in the classroom.

SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER? As a teacher on the front line, a life coach and qualified youth counsellor, my contribution is in giving timely and sometimes straight-down-the-line accurate advice on teen self-esteem, personal development, health, wealth, sex, dating and relationships, while at the same time advocating and supporting my teens in every way I can, sometimes in the face of hostile reactions from school management and other teaching staff.

I NOW HAVE A PLAN to establish an afterschool activity centre close to the school where I worked, where my teens can learn life skills and the knowledge they need to turn their lives around, give up their more negative habits and choose new ones that lead them to taking the necessary steps to lead the life they have always wanted and achieve their personal goals. Based on the American 4-H youth organisation but “Vietnamized” and more focused on personal development and learning marketable skills that will be valuable in the online marketplace in the future, my vision is to create a values-driven and exciting centre of informal education that allows my teens to believe in themselves and make their dreams come true.

To do this, I intend to crowdfund the setting-up of the centre via the IndieGogo crowdfunding platform but to do that, I need a crowd of fans, followers and supporters willing to donate. To that end, I have become an author and I will soon publish my first novel about the issues my teen face. The novel is called “Shisha Girl” and the book cover is the picture at the top of this article. Published soon as a serial on Wattpad and as a print book and Kindle on Amazon, I hope the book will give me the fans I need to run a successful IndieGogo campaign.

Check out the Slideshare presentation below for a brief overview of my work to improve the lives of my teens. It’s time to make a difference. It’s time to change things around, to shake things up and start something new. Let’s have a new generation of young Asian millennials who embrace the realities of life in the 21st. Century, while giving them the inspiration and courage they need to achieve levels of success their parents could only dream of. LET’S START NOW!

Online School Administration Software Keeps Busy Parents Informed

Most parents would agree that it is important to keep track of their children’s education given the competitive world we live in. Generally parents would need to wait 9 weeks between parent teacher conferences and the occasional report card to understand how their children are doing.

Unfortunately, today’s work environment doesn’t encourage time spent in evaluating your child’s grades, nor does it give you the space to have a conversation with their teachers and headmasters. Most often than not, parents only find out about behavioral or academic issues once they have escalated and then it requires so much more effort to get the child back on track. Handling special situations gets tougher too.

Busy parents need a better way to communicate with their children’s teachers and keep up with their progress these days. Today’s world has many parents that work a lot of hours and many even travel most of the time.

What’s the solution? The use of technology has brought to you, the parent, an option that has been evolving over the last decade. Using online school administration software keeps you up-to-date on your child’s progress and activities during school hours.

Now parents can keep up with their child’s progress on a regular basis without having to put work on hold. In today’s electronic-age, this is the perfect solution to handling their activities, report cards, progress reports, schedules and disciplinary records from one place and with one application.

You can’t beat the value of this product. Early warning signs of a declining academic progress can be seen early on and handled. Further-more, online school administration software is so simple to use to keep track of your child’s progress when you’re abroad or away from home for work. More importantly, teachers can always communicate early signs of misbehavior to you.

Software like this is innovative and gives the parents a real heads up when it comes to their child’s school activities. Parents can log in weekly or even daily to find out how their child scored on their term papers and pop quizzes. Some parents are even allowed access to the grade book in the online school administration software which will highlight assignment grades and then translate those grades into the cumulative grade point average. A further advantage is in being able to develop the conversation with your child around why the grades are dropping, rather than nagging them to find out what their grades are.

With the availability of this information online, come higher requirements for safety and security. Parents would be given usernames and passwords that are generated by the online school administration software itself. This is to ensure that no one else can gain access to any personal information about the student or the family.