Exam stress management
Exam stress management: Introduction
Few words can cause so much anxiety and stress than the word “exam”. The mere mentioning of the word can cause people of all ages from getting a good night’s sleep, and is some cases can even lead to more severe symptoms.
So what can we as parents do to help our children cope better with these stresses?
Below is some extracts from an article by Kerry Acheson, entitled “Coping With Exams: How Parents Can Help”. The full article is available from http://www.claremontpractice.co.za/newsletter-0913.html.
We know the following about exams:
Exams are stressful events;
Exams cause dread and a feeling of butterflies in the stomach;
Exams are inescapable;
Exams can cause anxiety, nightmares, stress and worrying.
Ways in which a parent can support his child with exam stress:
Support your child to gain more control over his exams by dividing his subjects into small tasks and to make exam notes every afternoon. Keep the atmosphere at home as calm and quiet as possible.
Teach your child to be self-aware by observing his:
Ø feelings and
Ø body when he gets anxious.
Encourage your child to catch and replace negative thoughts.
Put up affirmation statements around the house, for example:
Ø I do my best every day;
Ø I take the exams one step at a time;
Ø I can do it;
Ø I achieve my goals every day;
Ø I am calm and relaxed.
Deep breathing exercises and/or seeing a peaceful scene in his mind can be effective in reducing exam stress and anxiety. Also, help your child to develop a study schedule.
Exam stress management: preparation is key
A study schedule is made by:
Ø Calculate the available days for studying until the end of the exams.
Ø Estimate the needed hours of study.
Ø Divide the needed study hours between the days on the study schedule.
Ø Schedule the harder study times to the times of the day that your child is most alert.
Ø Review and adapt the study schedule along the way.
Ø Tick off each completed study session to gain a sense of progress and achievement.
Ø Encourage your child to have breakfast in the morning.
Exam stress management: On the day
On the day of the exam:
Ø Do deep breathing exercises;
Ø Calmly “imagine” the exam procedure;
Ø Use positive affirmations – tell yourself you will do well;
Ø If your child experiences “going blank” encourage him to do the breathing exercises and affirmations;
Ø Encourage your child to tell himself: “…it’s ok to be nervous, this will pass….”..
Mastering exam preparation is an art. It will take consistency from both you as a parent as well as your child to change his exam coping skills, and manage his exam stress.