Tests and exams are often stressful, especially the ones that happen towards the end of the academic year. Since most of these exams are scheduled closely with tons of syllabus to revise, the pressure is inevitable. While the stress levels experienced may vary from child to child, for many kids and adolescents, examination pressure is intense and difficult to handle.
What happens when children are under stress?
Stress is basically an adverse reaction of the body to a high pressure or demanding situation. When your child is stressed out, his or her body gets into a typical “fight or flight” mode. From feeling nervous and jittery to experiencing anger, frustration, poor appetite and mental confusion, there can be a range of symptoms of varying intensities. This kind of response will eventually reduce their ability to focus on studies and adversely impact their grasping and memorizing capacities.
How can parents help children cope with exam stress?
As parents, you can play a vital role in alleviating the symptoms of examination stress. By helping your children with time management and guiding them through revisions, you can help create enough time and space to ensure quality work. Here are 5 tips to help your child deal with exam stress:
1. Set realistic goals and expectations
Be as supportive and tolerant as possible. This is not the time to compare your child’s performance with peers. Understand your child’s capacities and limitations. Assist your child to analyse his or her strengths and weakness, set realistic goals and put together a list of strategies for effective revision plans and practice tests.
2. Identify your child’s best working times
While some children can stay up late, others like to wake up early. If there is a need to study for longer periods, observe your child’s sleeping patterns and see whether late nights or early mornings suit your child. Each child is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Whenever your child feels refreshed and relaxed, that happens to be the best time to revise.
3. Allow your child to take regular breaks
Studying continuously for hours together may not really benefit your child. Remind your child to take short breaks between revisions to refresh and relax the brain. Encourage to move around, play a sport or exercise. Exercise reduces physical tension in muscles and releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. Listening to music, meditation or chatting with friends and family are all good relaxation techniques.
4. Provide a well-balanced diet
We often underestimate the role and importance of nutrients in building brain health. You child’s brain and body needs sufficient energy to cope with extra workload. It is extremely important to provide your child with a healthy balanced diet. Make sure your child doesn’t skip meals, especially breakfast. Limit the intake of chocolates, coffee, stimulants, sugary drinks and junk food as they create immediate sugar spikes followed by periods of extreme sluggishness. Instead give more fresh fruits and fruit juices for snacking.
5. Make sure they’re getting enough sleep
Getting 8 hours of sleep is essential to good concentration and memory. Constant stress and worrying about exams can compromise the quality of sleep. Therefore, it is important for your child to unwind before bedtime by listening to music, taking a shower or reading something light and funny. Encourage your child to stick to a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time.