By: DeAnn Maccloskey
Some of my favorite clients to work with are my “AP kids.” These are the teens that are taking advanced placement classes in high school, have a drive to get into a good college, have a passion to be successful, and always set their standards high. I love working with these types of people because they are willing to put in the work that therapy often requires. They strive to be the best and that includes in their mental health. So, what is their downfall? Just that. That perfection mentality makes it very difficult to find satisfaction in themselves for who they are. See Performance Based Identity Blog. What is the most common issue I see with these types of teens? ANXIETY.
Because AP classes require much more work, focus and dedication than standard or even honors classes, teens tend to feel overwhelmed, pressured and anxious. I have had clients sit on my couch and bawl hysterically over their AP class. I’ve had others have self-harming thoughts and behaviors because they could no longer handle or cope with the pressure. While AP classes are prestigious and impressive on a transcript; if not handled correctly, AP classes could be the demise of your child. Here are some tips to help your teen get through these difficult classes.
- Implement time management and organization. One of the biggest struggles that many AP kids feel is If not handled correctly from the beginning of the school year, AP classes can begin to drown your teen due to poor organization. Have your child come up with a time management and organization plan that works for them (not you) and then have them implement it.
- Have a life outside of school. Often times AP teens forget that they’re still teens and obsess about their classes. So much so, that they forget to have a social life and/or forget to get involved in other activities they enjoy outside of learning.
- Practice rational thinking. An irrational thought looks like this: If I don’t pass this AP exam, my whole year will have been a waste, I will be a complete failure and will disappoint my teachers/parents/dogs/myself/friends/etc. While this feels a bit exaggerated, most irrational thoughts are! So learn to be aware of those irrational thoughts and then switch them to more rational (realistic) thinking. Such as: I am going to do my best on this test that I know I am prepared for. I will not jump to conclusions about failing before I even know my results.
- Learn coping skills that work best for you. If you are feeling overwhelmed, take a break and do something to help you relax, unwind, and/or cope with your stress. If you enjoy being active, go workout or go for a run/bike ride. If you’re not as active, take a TV time out and watch an episode of your favorite show or eat a snack. Practice breathing techniques, such as breathing deeply for 2 minutes. These little moments of sanity will help bring clarity to your feelings of utter stress.
- Seek professional counsel. Sometimes the best way to cope (and to learn how to cope) is by talking to a professional. This can be your place to vent, strategize and escape.
If you, or your teen, is struggling from anxiety, then call Life Counseling Solutions 407-622-1770 for a free 15-minute consultation or to schedule an appointment. Click here if you would like to schedule an appointment online.