Supporting Your Child Through Study and Exam Stress
[Image: Unsplash. This is a collaborative post]
We usually talk about stress in negative terms but apparently some stress is a good thing as it prepares our brains to perform better and forces us to adapt to new situations. Obviously too much stress is bad for us as it can cause anxiety and depression but equally, too little stress leads to boredom and even depression too!
Our eldest is in her final year at school and, because of lockdown, the status of the Leaving Cert exams is uncertain at the moment. Not only is she stressed about studying for exams that may or may not happen, she is also trying to keep up with online schooling at home, and all this after adapting to home schooling for a number of months in her 5th year due to the first lockdown.
Many parents can relate to the helplessness of witnessing their child struggle with exams and study stress. This can be even more upsetting when we know we are not able to help our child with the subject at hand. In our desire to assist them we may want to remove any obstacles in their way but this isn’t beneficial as our children need to learn ways of coping themselves. However, there are a number of ways we can support our children through this difficult period and things we can do to help lower their stress levels.
In this post I have teamed up with a guest writer to discuss the issue of study and exam stress, here are some of the researched options that are available to us:
Make sure your child is taking plenty of breaks – It’s almost impossible to avoid a screen now with most schooling being done online. Set up regular breaks through the day between classes and encourage them to stand up, walk around and have a snack to take their mind off studies for a few minutes. This is a good way to refresh their brain, refocus their eyes and help them to breathe for a bit!
Consider hiring a tutor – Another option is to hire a tutor if your child is struggling. It is now easier to find tutors than ever before thanks to the internet. If your child is struggling with a particular subject, having a tutor they can learn from and ask questions of could be a massive boost to their confidence in that subject.
Validate their concerns and worries – Children can often get frustrated when they feel like no one is listening to them or seem to understand what they are going through. It is important to take time out to really listen to any concerns our children have. We are sometimes tempted to brush them off and say that whatever it is is nothing to worry about. However, these may be real concerns for our children and by listening and allowing them to express their feelings we build trust in our relationships with them. Once we have heard their worries we can help our children put them into perspective.
Try to help your child find a method of learning that works for them – The final way to help our children lower stress levels during exam periods is to help them to figure out what method of study works for them. We all have different ways of working, once we unlock what suits us best we learn much more effectively. Helping our children to figure this out can make a huge difference and relieve much of their anxiety.
So there you have it: four steps you can take to reduce the stress levels your child is experiencing during exams. It’s not unusual for people to feel stressed or anxious during difficult periods in their lives, exam sessions are often the first big stress children have had to face and this can take over all of their thinking. If they struggle to process and handle their anxieties we need to step in to support them so we hope the suggestions above can help you and your children when you find yourself in this situation.