How to Help Your Child Cope With Exam Stress
Exam season is usually stressful and children often tend to skip meals and burn their midnight oil to finish their revisions. Stress and anxiety during exams are often taken light of and is often regarded as a part and parcel of a student’s life. However, this immense pressure has a lasting negative impact on their mental health and also has long-term adverse effects.
Exam stress can be caused by a number of factors including fear of failure, unrealistic expectations, performance anxiety and pessimism. Parents are often unequipped to deal with a child suffering from exam stress. Unwittingly, sometimes, even they contribute to it through their words and actions.
Every child responds differently to stress and pressure. While some might have a way out of it, others find it incredibly difficult to deal with. Here are a few ways in which you can aid your child during the exam season and ease their burden.
Do not add to the pressure.
During the exam period, your child is already under a lot of stress. Do not add to it by bringing up their previous results, talking about the time they wasted or comparing them with their peers. Try to encourage them by listening to their fears, if they open up to you about it. Assure them that while exams are important, it is not the end of the world and that there is much more to life than a sheet of paper.
On the day of the exam, be positive and reassuring. Let them know that even if things do not go well, you will be there for them. Help them reach the exam centre on time and also prepare them on what to expect.
Provide a healthy study environment.
During the exam season, ensure that your child does not have to deal with added stress from external factors. For instance, the presence of unfamiliar guests, familial disputes etc. might become added burdens for an already tensed mind.
In addition to this, it is important that your child has their own permanent study area, where they would not be disturbed by unwanted noise and distractions. However, it is important to ensure that the area is not too isolated so that the child does not feel secluded.
Ensure a healthy diet.
One of the major symptoms of exam stress is lack of appetite. Do not let your child skip meals and make them understand that a healthy body is important to ensure better learning. Make sure that your child remains hydrated and limits the consumption of unhealthy and fast food.
Parents should also ensure that their child does not depend a lot on caffeine, energy drinks etc. They tend to make children hyperactive or even moody, in addition to having a negative impact on their health in the long run. Fresh fruits, vegetables and dairy products are good additions to the diet for a healthy body and a fresh mind.
Instil a proper sleep schedule.
Many a time, children forgo sleep on the days leading up to the exam. This often has an adverse effect on them as it can lead to decreased retention levels, stress and panic. Lack of sleep also increases forgetfulness and decreases brain productivity. Thus, as a parent, make sure that your child sleeps for at least eight hours every day. Talk to them about the importance of a well-rested body for better performance.
Offer support and guidance in their studies.
While unnecessary intervention in their study plans might be unwelcome for some students, you can let them know that you will be willing to assist them in whatever capacity you can. Your support can be in the form of quizzing them on topics, helping them learn better by providing practical examples or even just being there for them emotionally. Sometimes, even sharing encouraging stories about your school days and battles with exams could be of great help to your child.
Prepare them to be ready to face results.
While exams and the stress it causes are daunting, the fear of results is just as severe for many children. If the result is bad, it is possible that the child will beat themselves up over it. They are already weighed down by the feeling of having disappointed you and might feel scared or ashamed to return home after results or even face you.
In such situations, don’t be hard on them. Tell them that failure is a part of life and one bad result is not the measure of success. Encouragement and positive words from you are more likely to motivate them than harsh words of criticism.
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