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Supporting Your Child Through Exam Pressure: A Guide for Parents

By Candise Adams (Safe Counselling Australia)

As a parent of a 16 year old who has just completed her first lot of year 11 exams, I saw first hand as a parent how exam time changed my child. Not necessarily in a negative way but studying 10 hours a day, the constant fear of failing and the pressure that she put on herself to perform. I decided to write this Blog to help other parents navigate through exam time- and as a reminder for myself come September when we go through this all over again! (Insert head slap emoji)

Exams can be a stressful time for high school students, with the pressure to perform well and the anticipation of future goals weighing heavily on their minds. As a parent, your role in supporting your child during this challenging period is crucial. In this Blog I will explore the pressure of exams on high school students and provide valuable tips on how you can help your child navigate this stressful time.

Understanding Exam Pressure: High school students face numerous sources of exam pressure, including academic expectations, aspirations for higher education, and the competitive nature of the education system. This pressure can have a significant impact on their mental and emotional well-being. Recognising the signs of exam stress and being proactive in addressing it is essential.

Signs of Exam Stress: Keep an eye out for signs of exam stress in your child. These may include changes in behaviour, mood swings, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, or a decline in academic performance. By being attentive and observant, you can intervene early and provide the support they need.

Effective Ways to Support Your Child:

  1. Encourage open communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their concerns and fears about exams. Let them know that their well-being and growth are more important than grades alone.

  2. Establish a study routine: Help your child create a structured study plan that includes regular study sessions, breaks, and time for relaxation. A consistent routine can provide a sense of stability and help them manage their time effectively.

  3. Promote healthy habits: Encourage your child to maintain a balanced lifestyle during the exam period. Encourage regular exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep. These habits support their overall well-being and contribute to better concentration and focus.

  4. Encourage breaks and relaxation: Remind your child about the importance of taking breaks and engaging in activities they enjoy. Encourage hobbies, physical activity, and relaxation techniques to help them recharge and prevent burnout.

  5. Manage expectations: Avoid placing excessive pressure on your child to achieve specific grades. Instead, focus on their effort, progress, and personal growth. Reinforce the idea that exams are a part of the learning process and not a reflection of their worth.

Be a Supportive Presence: During the exam period, your role as a supportive presence is vital. Offer encouragement and reassurance without adding to the pressure they already feel. Celebrate small achievements and remind them that you love and accept them unconditionally, regardless of their exam results.

Seeking Additional Support: Remember, you don't have to navigate this alone. Reach out to the school Counsellor, teachers, or other resources available to provide additional support for your child. If exam stress becomes overwhelming or your child exhibits signs of severe anxiety or depression, seeking professional help is essential.

Supporting your child through the pressure of exams is a crucial role for parents. By creating an environment of open communication, establishing a study routine, promoting healthy habits, managing expectations, and being a supportive presence, you can help your child navigate this challenging time. Remember, their well-being and personal growth are paramount. Together, we can help our children thrive academically and emotionally during the exam period and beyond.

I hope this blog post has provided you with valuable insights and practical tips for supporting your child. Good luck to both you and your child as you navigate their

exams with empathy, understanding, and unwavering support.

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