So what can we as parents do to help our children cope better with these stresses?
Below is some extracts from an article by Kerry Acheson, entitled "Coping With Exams: How Parents Can Help". The full article is available from http://www.claremontpractice.co.za/newsletter-0913.html.
- Exams are stressful events;
- Exams cause dread and a feeling of butterflies in the stomach;
- Exams are inescapable;
- Exams can cause anxiety, nightmares, stress and worrying.
Ways in which a parent can support his child with exam stress:
- Support your child to gain more control over his exams by dividing his subjects into small tasks and to make exam notes every afternoon;
- Keep the atmosphere at home as calm and quiet as possible;
- Teach your child to be self-aware by observing his:
Ø feelings and
Ø body when he gets anxious.
- Encourage your child to catch and replace negative thoughts.
- Put up affirmation statements around the house, for example:
Ø I take the exams one step at a time;
Ø I can do it;
Ø I achieve my goals every day;
Ø I am calm and relaxed.
- Deep breathing exercises and/or seeing a peaceful scene in his mind can be effective in reducing exams stress and anxiety.
- Help your child to develop a study schedule.
A Study schedule is made by:
Ø Calculate the available days for studying until the end of the exams.
Ø Estimate the needed hours of study.
Ø Divide the needed study hours between the days on the study schedule.
Ø Schedule the harder study times to the times of the day that your child is most alert.
Ø Review and adapt the study schedule along the way.
Ø Tick off each completed study session to gain a sense of progress and achievement.
Ø Encourage your child to have breakfast in the morning.
On the day of the exam:
Ø Do deep breathing exercises;
Ø Calmly “see” the exam procedure;
Ø Use positive affirmations;
Ø If your child experiences “going blank” encourage him to do the breathing exercises and affirmations;
Ø Encourage your child to tell himself: “…it’s ok to be nervous, this will pass….”..
Mastering exam preparation is an art. It will take consistency from both you as a parent as well as your child to change his exam coping skills.