Exam Stress – A parents perspective

Exams … we have all done them at some stage in our lives.  We all remember the stress and worry leading up to them, asking yourself questions like Do I know enough? What happens if I haven’t revised the correct thing? Etc.

I remember the sleepless nights, the poor appetite, the short temper.  Not knowing why I felt like that and not knowing where to turn.

Many of us are now parents and have children who are going through the same experience, having the same feelings and not believing anyone around them has been through the same thing.

So how can we, as parents/carers/friends/relatives help them?  Here are a few suggestions that I have heard of others using:

Make sure that they are aware that you can help if needed, don’t wait for them to come to you. This doesn’t need to be a serious sit down conversation, a quick statement when you are passing in the hall or, a WhatsApp message or anything that suits the child you are trying to communicate with.  If they know you are ready to listen they are more likely to come to you when they need to.

Sometimes having a conversation side-by-side in a car or on a walk can allow the young person to open up and talk without judgement.

Talk to the school if you are feeling lost in how to help. Teachers and Pastoral Staff help students through this period of stress every year.  This also helps if the child is masking their stress when at school and it has not been noticed as a problem.

If you are the parent, be the parent. Try and get them to eat at regular intervals, they are more likely to learn if they have nutrition and a break from their revision.  Try and get them to bed at a reasonable hour, especially the night before an exam.  Stop their extra-curricular activities for a day or so before an important exam if necessary.

Encourage them to leave the house once a day, especially when they are on study leave, even if it is just to stand in the garden for 10 minutes. Fresh air and noises outside are very good for bringing someone out of their heads and into the moment and is often used for techniques like Mindfulness.

Use any help you have access to within your own family or extended circle of friends. Do you know any teachers?  Do you know anyone with a passion for a subject that is causing the child more stress than is necessary? These people do not need to teach, just to chat through a subject with someone is better than nothing.

Chat to other parents – you are not alone. Whatever someone says, every child will be stressed/worried at some stage in their lives.  Other peoples opinions and advice can often help you see a situation from a different angle.

Use online resources for education. BBC Bitesize or YouTube. The schools are also very good at guiding students to useful online resources.

These suggestions are not meant to be a step-by-step guide or to make you feel worse if you have tried all of these and your child is still stressed.  Unfortunately stress and worry are a fact of life, especially at this time of year.  The most important thing I can suggest is to be there as a shoulder if they need it.

Good Luck!!!!!



Posted on: 29th April 2024

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