Helping and Supporting Your Children Through Exam Season 

Exams are a stressful time for young ones. The stakes are high, and your children are likely to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Indeed, there’s significant discussion among psychologists regarding the detrimental effects stress during this period can have on the mental and physical well-being of the children sitting exams. Unfortunately, symptoms such as panic attacks, insomnia, and extreme fatigue are not uncommon, and in severe cases, students report an increase in self-harming behavior and suicidal ideation. 

If you want to avoid this scenario, you need to be aware of a few key signs your child might be struggling with and develop strategies to help them overcome this difficult time. Here are some of the aspects you should have in mind. 

Warning signs 

If you know where to look, there are some clear signs that an individual is stressed, and children are no exception. In order to spot these often-subtle behavioural changes in your teen, you need to be aware and alert without acting like you’re putting them under scrutiny. Are they more irritable than usual, or have you noticed they’ve lost interest in the things that made them happy before? For instance, if your child used to be a social butterfly, you’ll likely notice when they turn to stay inside all day and avoid talking to their friends. Conversely, if your kid’s more of an introvert who enjoys reading or playing video games, you might notice that they’re either not engaging with these hobbies anymore or they’ve become so absorbed into them you can hardly talk to them anymore. 

If you notice your kid is frequently complaining about stomach pains or headaches and they need painkillers constantly to alleviate them, it can also be a tell-tale sign of stress. Alterations in eating habits are also essential to note. Both undereating and overeating are symptoms of anxiety and perhaps depression, so if you notice either of these becomes a habit for your child, it might be a sign they’re struggling with emotional problems. 

Build routines 

The stress around exam season typically stems from feeling overwhelmed and like there’s too much to memorise in a short time. The best thing to do in this situation is to help your child establish a comprehensive routine plan. There must be sufficient time for studying and revisions and seeing friends, hobbies and downtime. When it comes to revising, you must emphasise the importance of regular breaks for the information to really settle in. Poring over the same textbook and notes for hours on end will probably only result in further exhaustion. 

Choose English language tutoring classes that are 50-minute each and match your child’s specific needs, so they don’t feel swamped by the workload they have to perform. Another way to help is to provide free GCSE English past papers to help your teen better understand what the exam actually implies. Suppose they practically see how it’s going to be. In that case, it can help partially alleviate their anxiety as they won’t focus as much on how they imagine the exams to be, as well as all the possible scenarios that can occur. 

Be flexible 

You must be prepared to respond to all their needs through this challenging time. It’s crucial you talk about anxiety. If mental health is a taboo subject in your home, it’s time to seriously reconsider that position. You don’t want your child to get the message that feeling stressed is a mark of oversensitivity or that being worried is a result of not being well-prepared. If you come forward too strongly, you’ll cause them to become withdrawn, and they won’t trust you anymore. You can offer some advice coming from how you deal with stressful situations in your own life. Give them advice, or provide an anecdote of a similar time you experienced. You were a student once too, and likely quote apprehensive before exams. 

However, it’s also essential that they don’t feel like it’s mandatory to talk. If they don’t feel comfortable discussing or sharing absolutely everything, don’t pressure them to open up to you faster than they’d wish. They’ll come to you when the time is right, and it’s essential to make yourself available when that time comes around. This also applies to their needs. For example, even if it seems to you like your teenager isn’t socialising enough nowadays, forcing them to go out might actually do more to increase their stress levels than alleviate them. As an adult, you need to provide a guiding example of staying flexible and open-minded so they, in turn, learn to treat themselves with kindness. Healthy habits and support will help them overcome everything. 

Positive reinforcement 

You want what’s best for your child. That, of course, also implies that you want them to be successful and have good results in everything they do. You don’t want them to have to deal with the disappointment of failure or the frustrating feeling of nearly achieving your goals only to come a little short. And while it’s vital to have goals and dreams, if they stress you out, it’s time to give yourself some space and prioritise your general well-being. This is a valuable lesson you must teach your child. 

In today’s hectic world, it’s easy to forget about this, and in the quest for achieving all your goals neglect the importance of your health. Remember that the road to hell is often paved with good intentions, and too much of a good thing isn’t good in the end. You must point out to your children that not achieving top scores isn’t a mark of failure or lower intelligence. It’s also essential they don’t let their grades define them. There’s more to life than exam results, but it can be challenging for them to see that as the task before them seems insurmountable. 

Stay reassuring and positive and help bring some much-needed perspective into their lives. And make sure they know that they can come to you no matter what their concerns are. If your child knows that they can trust you, they’ll know there’s always a safety net back there to lean back on if they need it. 

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