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Studying hard is often considered necessary to earn high grades. In some ways it is, but when it becomes excessive it can actually be harmful to your child physically, mentally, and academically. As your pre-teen transitions to high school or as your teen prepares for college, it’s important to start encouraging healthy study habits so they don’t burn out.

Keep reading to discover 4 effects of overstudying and different ways you can help your teen break the pattern of poor study habits.

4 Common Symptoms Of Overstudying

It’s important to note that these signs can look different for every child. You should always take your child’s normal demeanour and habits into account while you consider these symptoms.

  1. Changes In School Performance
  2. Overstudying can cause mental distractions and make it difficult to retain information. Not being able to focus during class and not being able to retain new information can seriously affect your child’s grades and participation in the classroom. If you notice your child is studying a lot but their grades are dropping, it’s a strong sign they’re studying too much (or not studying properly).

  3. Withdrawing From Social Activity
  4. This is the most noticeable symptom of overstudying. Withdrawing can take many forms. Your child could be spending more and more time closed off in their room. They could stop socializing completely or socialize noticeably less. You may notice your child struggles to find time to participate in activities or hobbies they normally enjoy.

    Keep in mind, while these are definitely symptoms of overstudying, they can also be a sign of other challenges your child is facing. It’s imperative that you talk to your child to rule out any other issues.

  5. Changes In Sleeping Habits
  6. Studies have shown that a lack of sleep can actually hinder the productivity of studying. This means if your child is overstudying (and sacrificing sleep to do it), they’re actually making less progress. If you notice your child is prioritizing studying over a good night’s sleep then it’s time to intervene.

    Sleep deprivation is detrimental to your teen’s ability to focus and process information, which can negatively impact their grades. Sleep deprivation can also lead to your child being more irritable than usual, leading to more frustration and stress around their school performance.

  7. Complaints Of Headaches Or Stomach Aches
  8. The stress of overstudying can show real physical signs— headaches or digestive issues—and can lead to long-term health issues. Physical health concerns can be a sign of advanced stress from overstudying. If the concerns causing them continues, it can lead to long-term physical (and mental) issues.


How To Avoid Over Studying

  1. Practice Time Management
  2. If your teen is planning out their homework and study tasks effectively, there should be no need to overstudy. If they do feel the need to overdo it in order to get everything done, then it’s time to look at what all they have on their plate. Have they taken on too much responsibility? Extracurriculars might have to take a back burner until a better schedule can be planned. They might need to be eliminated altogether if they’re not a priority.

  3. Prioritize Sleep
  4. Sleep is not an optional activity—and it’s especially critical for teens. If your child is managing their time effectively then sleep should be put high on their list of priorities, if not the highest. Teens need between 8 and 10 hours of sleep per night to be at their best. Being well-rested can help keep feelings of stress at bay by regulating the hormones that cause them. This means they need to make an effort to have better sleep hygiene by cutting out screen time before bed, getting some exercise, and reducing caffeine intake.

  5. Take Study Breaks
  6. Taking small 5 to 15 minute breaks every hour while studying can help refresh your teen’s mind. This allows them to process the information they just learned. This helps the brain retain more by not being overstimulated with the constant intake of new material. Taking these breaks also allows renewed focus—making your teen’s study sessions more effective.

  7. Set Realistic Goals
  8. Having unrealistic goals can add to stress and make your child feel the need to overstudy. It’s good to sit down with them and chat about their goals and adjust them.

    An example of an unrealistic goal could be raising their grade in physics from a 50 to a 90 percent between midterm and finals. Encourage them to set ambitious goals, while distinguishing between ambitious and unrealistic accomplishments—or else your teen could end up putting too much pressure on themselves. Teach your child how to set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based.

    For some pre-teens and teens, it’s difficult to express how they’re feeling. They may have a hard time opening up and saying “I’m stressed and this is why”—so it’s important for you to take the time to talk with them.

    Ask probing, open-ended questions to uncover what has them feeling the need to overstudy in the first place. When that issue is uncovered, here are a few ways you can help them manage the stress and create healthy study habits as they move into high school and prepare for college.


Start Forming Healthy Study Habits Now

Instilling healthy study habits in children as they progress through grade levels is ideal, but it’s never too late to start forming the ability to study more effectively. Good study habits will carry them through college or university and into their career when you aren’t there to guide them as much. Providing support now will help them get a routine in place so these habits become second-nature.

If you feel overwhelmed and not sure where to start, ask a teacher or one of the school’s guidance counsellors for support and tips on talking to your teen. If you need more hands-on help, Scholars Education Centres offer Study Skills Programs to help teach your child to study effectively and healthily. We offer a free trial hour or assessment to determine your teen’s unique needs and goals so we can help them find balance and become more efficient with studying.


Dr. Danielle, PhD


January 24, 2020