Practical Tips for Helping Your Child Through Exams

We’ve discussed a lot of issues surrounding the final years of high school on the blog over the years…

How to help your child survive the VCE, part 1, part 2 and part 3;

How to deal with the pressures of year 12 (by reducing them);

Motivation and success during VCE; and

How to help your child pick their final year electives.

But for many of you, you will now be in the grips of the climactic point of your child’s high school education: their final exams.

So Australia’s leading online mental health organisation for young people — ReachOut — has published some practical tips for parents, to help you help your child through this stressful period.

In the grand scheme of your child’s schooling experience, the final exam period is very short.

So if you can make some allowances and give them a little extra TLC for the next few weeks, you’ll be helping to get them through the period as calmly and productively as possible.

Try implementing the following into your family routine:

  1. Help them to understand their stress.

Help your child identify when and why they feel stressed, and how these feelings manifest themselves, physically and emotionally (some stress can be beneficial, but when it turns into anxiety it becomes problematic).

Discuss ways that they can work on reducing their stress, in the short-term and the long-term, and how you can assist them in doing that.

Meditation and mindfulness can be hugely beneficial — you could get them to download a guided app on their phone (like Smiling Mind or HeadSpace), or consider meditating together.

Remind them to take the pressure off themselves too, and that there is life after high school exams!

Help them to write a list of ways that they can relax, and that can be their go-to guide in moments of stress, or on scheduled study breaks.

  1. Help them set up a good study area.

Somewhere quiet, organised, and with minimal distractions.

Help them create a study plan, and break their goals into small chunks, with clear, achievable goals.

Create a study timetable together, which includes breaks and times to relax and socialise.

  1. Give them a break from household chores.

If you can, don’t ask them to take time off studying for anything that is not urgent, and try to coordinate family time and other necessary tasks around their schedule.

  1. Help them to be active, to eat well, and to sleep well.

Combine non-study activities with exercise — such as making family time a walk together in the park. This has the added bonus of getting them outside in nature with fresh air, which is beneficial for mental health.

If you prepare their food, try to make nutritious, balanced meals, and avoid processed foods.

Encourage them to drink plenty of water, and minimise their caffeine and sugar intake (these ingredients can make them hyper or anxious; teenagers are recommended not to exceed 100ml of caffeine a day).

  1. Look after yourself, too.

Exam periods can be as stressful for parents as they are for the students!

Take time out for yourself, even for ten minutes a day. Managing your own stress will make you much better equipped to help your child manage theirs.

If you’re concerned that your teenager is not coping with the pressure and unable to manage their exam anxiety, get in touch with us for some professional help.

And remind them (and yourself) that their results are not the only way to achieve their goals.

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