Classlist Parents

How to keep stress levels down during exam week

All parents want their kids to do well in school. However, stress can be one of the greatest deterrents for children to achieve their full potential, according to several parenting and psychology experts. Luckily, parents can do something about this. As the GCSE and Common Entrance Exams period arrives, there are some practical steps parents can take in order to facilitate their children’s learning process in times particularly prone to stress.

Recognising stress symptoms

Some positive coping mechanisms, according to the NHS, include allowing children to study with one of their peers. Socialising and being able to speak about their worries can help children keep things in perspective. Taking breaks in between revising is also vital for kids to retain information. Parents also need to be able to recognise signs of stress in their children. The NHS suggests paying attention to symptoms such as headaches or stomach pain. Stressed children may also become irritable, unable to sleep well, lack appetite, worry a lot, or appear depressed or negative.

Adequate eating and sleeping

A balanced diet can accomplish wonders when it comes to nourishing a child’s brain. Many parents reported that high-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine foods and drinks can make kids hyperactive, irritable and moody, and are not recommended especially during exam periods.

Healthy nourishment should be paired with a proper sleep every night. Sleeping improves thinking and concentration and most teenagers require between 8 and 10 hours of it each night. In order to improve your child’s sleep quality, it is important to have them take a break of half an hour or so after using electronics such as television or computers before they go to sleep. Last-minute, panicky revising more commonly known as all-nighters, are not recommended.

Parents, stay relaxed

Parents should also strive to remain serene during this period, as parenting guru David Cope notes. In his book: “Kids Pick Up on Everything: How Parental Stress is Toxic to Kids” the Episcopal minister and father of two says children absorb the stress from their parents, so remaining calm and keeping things into perspective, along with the coping mechanisms above, also apply to parents.

Many parents have high expectations of their children, but it is important to apply the 8:1 positivity/negativity rule, says happiness expert and author of “The Art of Being Brilliant”, Dr. Andy Cope. Avoiding being too critical and recognising the child’s successes, even the small ones, can have a very positive effect in their wellbeing, says Cope.

Finally, if all the above fails, try giving your child a seven-second hug.