Coping with exam stress

By November 19, 2013Anxiety, Stress

How Can I Help My Child?

Exam time is stressful for everyone, and parents often feel helpless when it comes to helping their children manage stress and do their best in exams. Well help is here, and Dr. Russell from Hello Doctor gave some handy tips to help you, as parents, manage the next couple of months.

Stay Calm
Remember, they are the ones who have to write the exam, not you. While it’s perfectly normal for you to become anxious and worry for your kids in the lead-up to exams – especially if it’s a major exam such as matric – the best way you can help is to remain calm. Don’t transfer anxiety, especially if you had negative exam experiences yourself. Rather, be calm and supportive and offer your advice when they ask for it.

Stick To A Normal Routine
It helps to make a few practical changes at home, for example keeping distractions and noises to a minimum, but also keeping mealtimes and bedtimes the same. It’s very important for your teenager to eat well and get enough sleep each night while they’re writing exams.

Take Time Out For Yourself
While it’s important to be supportive and available for your child during exam time, ‘time out’ for parents is as important as it is for students.

Stock Up On Healthy Snacks
Dr. Russell suggests making sure everyone in the house starts the day with a good breakfast. Go for low GI cereal, oats, whole wheat toast or boiled eggs. Cut back on high sugar snacks and drinks, and rather have fresh fruit, biltong, cheese, nuts and yoghurts freely available to snack on.

Keep An Eye Out
If you notice your child seems to be struggling with studying, ask how you can help or suggest a time out from the books. A short walk, power nap, hot bath, listening to music or even just chatting to you might be all they need to feel refreshed and get back on track with their studies.

Read  Treat stress, anxiety and depression with Mindfulness

Don’t Let Them Pull All-nighters
If your child is studying through the night they’re quickly going to start taking strain. We retain more information and can recall 50% better after a good night’s sleep, so make sure your child is still getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night. They’ll be less likely to go ‘blank’ at a critical moment, and they’ll be alert and focused during their exam.

Encourage Exercise And Time Outdoors
Favourite sports and activities often fall by the wayside when it comes to exam time, however, this is when a child needs it most. Exercise works wonders for the mind, and just 20 minutes of daily exercise helps relieve stress and anxiety and helps them sleep better at night. Let them kick a soccer ball around with friends, put on music and dance, swim, ride a bike, or even take the dog for a run – whatever it takes to get them moving.

Stay Positive And Keep Perspective
Always remember that your child is not defined by the results they get in their exams. Helping them stay positive is part of your responsibility as a parent, and to do this you need to stay positive too.  Recognise where your child’s strengths and weaknesses lie, so you can help them when you need, and keep encouraging them on a daily basis.

Sources: Youngminds.org, School Days

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