How to Help Your Child Survive (And Even Thrive) During VCE – Part 1 of 3

(This is the first post in a three part series.)

The Causes and Symptoms of Stress

VCE* is the most stressful period of school that your child will undertake. Even the most capable student can feel overwhelmed from time-to-time.

(*The Victorian Certificate of Education covers the final two years of secondary school.)

What’s more, stress can not only compromise your child’s ability to achieve their full academic potential…but it can also take a toll on their health, their relationships with friends and family and their emotional wellbeing.

So what can you do about it?

Despite the growing influence on teenagers of media, friends and celebrities, research continues to show that the best predictor of a young person’s wellbeing is their relationship with their parents.

You provide a model for your children of how to deal with difficult situations and how to view the world.

And you can be a great source of support for them as they embark on the challenge of VCE.

You can do many things to create a home environment in which your teenager is able to study, can relax and can talk about things that are bothering them.

Ask yourself how you usually deal with stress and what you are teaching your teenager.

Do you need to revise your own stress-management strategies?

If your child is not coping, they may display it in a variety of ways.

Causes of stress

In addition to the huge amount of schoolwork and expectations about future success, it is important to remember that kids still have a life outside of school.

Here are some examples of things your teenager may find stressful during their VCE years:

  • School (of course – exams, assignments, teachers
  • Career choices
  • Organisation/time-management
  • Extra-curricular activities (part-time job, sports teams)
  • Body image/health
  • Friends/relationships
  • Family
  • Identity

If you would like your son or daughter to receive some professional support from an experienced psychologist to help them deal with the challenges of VCE, you might like to consider VCE Coaching.

>> Click here to learn more about VCE Coaching

Warning signs

If your son or daughter is not coping, they may display it in a variety of ways.

Here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Marked differences in mood
    – Angry  or demanding
    – Restless
    – Sad
    – Nervous, apprehensive
  • Changes in energy levels
    – Tired all the time, unable to get out of bed
  • Physical complaints
    – Stomach ache
    – Headache
    – Nauseous
    – Light-headed/dizzy
  • Poor concentration, memory, organisation, planning skills
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities/hobbies
  • Reduced school performance
  • Confused or ‘scattered’
  • Changes in social circle/socialising
    – New friends
    – Going out more, staying out later
    – Going out less
  • Changes in appearance
    – Lose/gain weight
    – Dramatic change in hairstyle/piercings
    – Dramatic change in dress sense

If you see these signs for more than a week or two, it may indicate that they are stressed, not coping or not looking after themselves.

This is an indication that it might be time to consult an independent professional.

Focused, individual VCE Coaching sessions with an experienced psychologist can help teenagers learn how to cope with stress, reduce anxiety and improve study, organisation and exam performance.

In the next two posts in this series I will share some practical tips you can use to help support your son or daughter throughout their stressful VCE years.

Click here to read Part 2

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