exam stress and anxiety

Exam Time for Parents

We are edging closer to the time of year that parents and adolescents dread the most: exam time. For some the important GCSE and A Level exams are now less than two months away. In this first blog in the series, I am going to be focusing on the parents.

For the best outcome, your child needs to be healthy

  • Physically
  • Socially
  • Psychologically

As a parent, what can you look out for that might suggest your child is not coping well with the pressures of the exams and that stress and anxiety are setting in:

Look for any changes in your child’s routine

  • Sleep patterns are different
  • Constantly tired or lacking in any real motivation or energy
  • Eating habits have changed

Look for physical changes

  • bad acne outbreaks
  • tummy trouble
  • other physical ailments that might not have an obvious cause
  • headaches

Look for behavioural changes in your child

  • Have they become quiet or withdrawn? Or obviously nervous of being alone?
  • Have they become more anxious in social settings?
  • Are they more irritable or short-tempered than normal?
  • Are you sensing a low mood that is becoming frequent?
  • Are they voicing negative thoughts or a sense of helplessness?
  • Are you noticing they might be socialising but possibly partaking in more alcohol than usual?

If it is clear to you that your child is struggling, have a quiet word and suggest ways to help. But we all know that teens find it difficult to listen to mum and dad. Mention your concerns to the school. But aim to create a supportive environment at home where options such as counselling can be explored in an honest and open way.

There is one more thing to think about and that is your function as the adult role model

  • Children learn from us. Model the behaviour you want from them.
  • Observe your own warning signs. If you are getting stressed about their exams, you are not going to be of much use to them when they get stressed.
  • Lead by example. If you want them off their phones and focusing on work, don’t let them see you glued to yours!
  • Look after yourself! You are of no use if you are falling apart.

To quote from every airline’s safety briefing:

Fit your own mask before helping others

 

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