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Managing stress during exam time - How can parents help their children?

Stress is the body's response to being under pressure, or to feeling threatened or overwhelmed. Stress is an increase of physical and mental tension which can happen before or during a situation where a person is worried about the outcome, for example an exam. It is therefore important that parents stand by their children in stressful situations and support them as much as possible. Although stress means different things to different people and can be caused and expressed in various ways, it can be successfully managed.

1. Avoid pressure

How parents deal with their own stress and problems influences their children. Try to be a calming influence and a role model by keeping your own emotions balanced and your stress in check.

Don't put pressure on your children. When it comes to studying, children need guidance, instructions, rules and habits to be able to concentrate and learn better. Parents showing interest in what their child is studying can be motivating, but depending on the situation, it can also put enormous pressure on the student. So make sure your child always knows that academic success is not everything, that you love them both when they get bad marks and when they get good ones, but that you continue to support them no matter what. For example, if you see that your child gave everything but didn't do well in an exam, praise them anyway for studying hard, and then later you can find a solution with them to improve next time. This will take the pressure off and keep your child motivated.

2. Find a balance

Resting and having a work-life balance is as important as studying itself, because only then will your child have enough energy to continue learning while maintaining their focus and motivation. Therefore, you should plan enough breaks for your children and fill them with sports or relaxing activities, such as listening to music or going for a walk.

Physical exercise not only helps your child clear their head, but it also reduces the risk of mental illness. Exercise stimulates circulation and if it's outside too, your child will benefit from the fresh air and daylight. Kids of all ages need time to play, go for walks and meet their friends to relax.

3. Get enough sleep

Getting a good night's sleep is a basic requirement for a productive start to the day. You should make sure that your child gets enough sleep, eight to ten hours is ideal especially during stressful and challenging periods. Help your child to go to bed and get up at regular times and establish a peaceful night-time routine together. For one to two hours prior to bedtime, your child should focus on relaxing activities such as reading or listening to an audio book to help them fall asleep. Reducing screen time before bedtime and setting rules for phone use can also be very beneficial.

For more tips on how to sleep well during exam periods, check out our blog.

4. Start a conversation

It is important for your child to know that they can come to you with their problems at any time, whatever they may be. Listen attentively and give your child tips on how they can solve their problems themselves.

Watch your child and if you notice that they seem stressed, try to talk to them about it. Ask them how they are feeling and what might be causing it. Create an opportunity for a conversation, because simply talking about what they're feeling can help them to start to feel better. Allowing themselves to feel their feelings and letting out some of the pressure by crying can also help. Just make sure not to force your child to talk to you. Once you've started a dialogue they are free to join the conversation if they wish, but forcing them to talk to you will only add pressure to the situation.

If you'd like to learn more about stress and how to manage it, check out our other blogs: What stress is and how it can be managed successfully? and 7 revision tips for preparing for exams.
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