Let’s Talk: Exam Stress and Anxiety
It’s that time of the year when preparing for exams becomes the household focus. Over the next few weeks we will be focusing on how best to support your child during this stressful period and what strategies can help with lessening some of the related anxiety.
Your child may openly express how stressed they are feeling. Or they may try to cope on their own and hold it all in. Although this may not be your child’s first experience of exam stress, there’s no harm in looking out for some of the signs that suggest they may be overwhelmed, anxious and under stress, such as:
- Skin breakouts
- Racing heart and sweating
- Mild chest tightness and pain
- Anger, frustration, blaming others
- Nail biting, teeth grinding and fidgeting
- Showing signs of “fear of failure”
- Problems going to sleep or waking up
- Losing touch with friends
- Difficulty making decisions
- Nausea or stomach upsets
- Avoiding revision altogether and always out
- Feeling or thinking negatively about the future
- Feeling cranky and irritable.
One of the challenges as a parent is that exams are something your child has to do on their own. But whilst they are revising you can support them by trying the following:
- Sit down with them and make a realistic revision plan which they can follow, and you can support them with
- Have realistic expectations and don't push them too hard
- Be constructive and positive
- Encourage good sleep patterns and eating habits
- Provide a quiet space for them to study and prepare
- Teach them the importance of study breaks
- Encourage them to ask teachers questions if they’re unsure about anything
- Remind your child there’s life beyond exam results. Disappointing grades are not the end of the world, even if it does feel that way at the time. There will be lots of other opportunities to succeed and do better.
Tips for Kids - planning ahead:
- Do have your own revision timetable – start planning well before exams begin. Your teacher should be able to help
- Do make your books, notes and essays user-friendly. Use headings, highlighting and revision cards, and get tips on other revision techniques from teachers and friends with experience of exams. You could also consider buying revision guides
- Do take notes of the important points when revising. Try to answer the questions of past exam papers – explain answers to tricky questions to someone else
- Do find out what routine suits you best - alone or with a friend or parent/carer; early morning or late at night; short, sharp bursts or longer sessions; with music or without noise - everyone revises differently
- Ask for help from your teacher/learning mentor, parent/carer or a friend if there are things you don’t understand.
- Don’t leave revision to the last minute
- Don’t avoid revising subjects you don’t like or find difficult
- Don’t forget that there is life beyond revision and exams
- Don’t cram ALL night before an exam.
If your child is finding the pressure of exams all too much and showing signs of anxiety, please speak to the teachers or feel free to contact the School Counsellors, Gita Bhatt and Jihad Omar.
From the Counselling Team