Managing Exam Stress
As exam season approaches, students often experience a significant amount of stress and pressure, which can impact their mental and emotional well-being. As parents we play an important role in supporting our children through this challenging time. We got a glimpse of what exam stress may look like as they were doing their mocks. So I’ve put together some tips to help ease the stress somewhat. Firstly it’s us parents that need to regulate;
Parental emotional regulation refers to a parent’s ability to manage their emotions effectively, particularly in the context of parenting. It involves being able to regulate one’s own emotions in response to their child’s behaviour or emotions, and to respond in a supportive and positive way.
The importance of parental emotional regulation cannot be overstated. When parents are unable to regulate their emotions, it can have a negative impact on their child’s emotional development and overall well-being. For example, if a parent becomes angry and yells at their child when the child is upset, the child may feel unsupported and unsafe, leading to increased anxiety and emotional dysregulation.
On the other hand, when parents are able to regulate their emotions, they can create a supportive and nurturing environment for their child. When a parent is able to remain calm and empathetic in response to their child’s emotional distress while studying, the child is more likely to feel safe and secure and can return to emotional baseline faster.
There are several strategies that parents can use to improve their emotional regulation. One of the most effective strategies is to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment and paying attention to one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment or reactivity. By practicing mindfulness, parents can become more aware of their own emotions and learn to regulate them more effectively.
Another strategy is to engage in regular self-care. When parents take care of their own emotional needs, they are better able to regulate their emotions in response to their child’s behaviour or emotions. This can include engaging in regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.
Finally, parents can benefit from learning effective communication skills. When parents are able to communicate effectively with their child, they are better able to understand their child’s emotions and respond in a supportive and positive way. This can include active listening, using “I” statements to express their own feelings, and validating their child’s emotions.
Encourage a Balanced Approach to Studying
One of the biggest sources of exam stress is feeling like there isn’t enough time to study. Parents can help their children manage their time more effectively by teaching them time management skills. This includes breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones, creating a study schedule, and setting realistic deadlines. Encourage your child to prioritize their tasks and avoid procrastination, which can lead to unnecessary stress and anxiety. In our house my daughter studies a subject for 20 minutes takes a 10 minute break and starts a new subject and will do this for 2 hours and stop. This works for her and we discovered this through trial and error! Build an approach that works for your child.
Set Realistic Expectations
It’s important for parents to set realistic expectations for their children when it comes to exam results. It’s natural for parents to want their children to do well, but putting too much pressure on them can be counterproductive. Instead, focus on encouraging your child to do their best and recognise that not everyone can achieve perfect grades. Remind your child that exams are just one part of their academic journey and that their value as a person is not determined by their results at school.
Create a Supportive Environment
Creating a supportive environment at home can make a big difference in how your child copes with exam stress. This includes being available to listen to your child’s concerns, providing encouragement and positive feedback, and avoiding unnecessary criticism or negativity. Help your child feel supported by being present, offering to help them study, and being willing to discuss any issues or challenges they may be facing.
Encourage Healthy Coping Mechanisms
It’s important for children to have healthy coping mechanisms to deal with stress and anxiety. Parents can help by encouraging their children to engage in activities that they enjoy, such as hobbies, exercise, or spending time with friends. Make sure your child takes breaks from studying to engage in these activities and encourage them to talk about their feelings if they are feeling overwhelmed.
Provide Emotional Support
Exams can be a stressful time for children, and it’s important for parents to provide emotional support. This includes offering reassurance, listening to your child’s concerns, and providing a safe space for them to express their feelings. Let your child know that it’s normal to feel stressed or anxious, and offer practical advice on how they can cope. If your child is experiencing severe exam stress or is struggling with their mental health, it’s important to seek professional help. This may include seeing a school counsellor, psychologist, or therapist. Encourage your child to talk to someone they trust about their feelings, and offer to help them find resources or support if needed.