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How To Help A Child With Exam Stress | A Parents Guide

How To Help A Child With Exam Stress | A Parents Guide

Are you and your child stressed because of upcoming exams? Do you find yourself helpless as you watch your child struggle with all the coursework? Is it even affecting your relationship with your child? 

Exam stress is a common occurrence among students of all age groups. Pressured to ace all arenas of their lives including extra curriculars, many students get crushed under the weight. In many Asian countries, especially India, South Korea and China, there is immense stress upon a school student to perform academically well. This might leave you concerned as well and thinking

How do I help my child beat exam stress?

In extreme cases, students have to study for upwards of 15 hours in a single day. Many attend regular school and then go on to participate in after school activities to make them exam ready. A lot of this takes an immense toll on a student’s mental and physical health.

There are many studies done on the harmful effects of stress. When the human body is stressed, it releases a hormone called cortisol. Prolonged release of this hormone is quite harmful for health and can have long term consequences such as high blood pressure, diabetes, mood swings etc. Thus, stress has severe mental, physical and emotional consequences.

There are many ways to help a child with exam stress in school but first, let us look at some reasons why your child might be displaying exam stress symptoms.

Limited preparation time:

Not just children, but a lot of us also end up panicking in situations when we do not feel sufficiently prepared. Children might not have enough time to prepare due to various reasons. Some of them might be realising too late that they need to prepare, not feeling an urgency to prepare or a genuine lack of time due to personal or school related reasons. This might be one of the reasons for exam stress.

Fear of faliure:

As a rule, we coach our students from a young age to not fail at exams. It becomes a very big deal in school and at home if a child performs sub-par at exams. They end up feeling shame and guilt for having let down their parents. This is also because of a lot of feelings of not being enough and can be a cause of symptoms of exam stress. 

Burnout :

Nowadays, children are being trained beyond their years to prepare them for the world. Many have to join not just school activities and extra curriculars but also out of school or after school programs. This adds stress and leaves them with not enough time to prepare for exams. This also leads to burn-out.

These exam symptoms can manifest as anxiety, lack of sleep, difficulty staying focused, hopelessness, stomach aches and loss of appetite These can obviously have an adverse effect on the childs performance and further lead to a fear of exams and exam stress.

Then the question arises,”How can I help my child or a child with exam stress?” Are there any exam stress tips out there that work and are legitimate? 

We at Bambinos.live are here to resolve your exam stress queries. First, we must understand that each child is different and a few might work for some but may not work for others. So, here are some tips to help your child beat exam stress!

1. Get Active:

All work and no play makes Johnny a Dull Boy! And isn’t there so much truth to this old adage? Imagine having to forever slug away at books and not getting any time to exercise your body. The physical wellness of the body is just as important as mental wellbeing. We consider studying to be a largely mental effort but it is just as important to flex your actual muscles. Studies show that the body produces endorphins which basically is the happiness hormone which improves mood and lessens stress. So get your child and go on a picnic or a water park before the exam to destress!

2. Socialise more:

One invaluable lesson we overlook is the power of human connection. With the advent of smartphones and zoom classes, social interactions aren’t really what they used to be. It is integral to have special human connections and foster an environment of love. Traditionally, Indian and Asian parents discourage children from going out to play and interacting with their peers especially before exams. However, socially interacting and even being a part of study groups can be immensely helpful to reduce exam stress.

3. Get 8 hours of sleep:

Pulling all nighters might be a common occurrence right before exams for most but it is certainly not a healthy choice. In fact, the smarter choice would be to sleep at least 6 to 8 hours right before the exam, It helps the brain to relax and your child can actually recall more information with higher accuracy. There is a lot data backing up these claims. If the learnt information is not complemented with proper rest, the child can actually forget most of it. It should be the number one priority of you as a parent to help your child sleep for 8 hours to help your child with exam stress.

4. Establishing trust:

Having a healthy bond with your child goes a long way in helping with exam related stress. Make sure that your child has enough faith in you to open up to you about struggles they might be facing. You can initiate talk about exam related stress in case you notice some exam stress symptoms appear in your child. If your child is irritable, try not to take it personally. But rather, create an open and safe environment for your child to express their needs. If you can see them distressed or behaving out of the ordinary, reassure them that you will be proud of them regardless of the results. That is the usually what they long to hear and can be a game changer while helping your child with exam stress.

5. Preparing in advance:

This might be the most obvious one but needs attention regardless. There are infact right and wrong ways to study. Help your child to prepare with scientifically backed ways to learn their exam syllabus rather than mugging up. There is a fantastic book called Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning which lays down scientifically backed ways to study anything and how to remember it all. The best technique is called ‘Active Recall’ which implies recalling what you studied without looking at your textbooks.

 A lot of repeated exposure coupled with revision is the sure shot way to learn and remember just about anything. It is usually our memory that fails us in time of need, and that is the muscle this technique trains. According to the book, most learning takes place when the material is not too easy and not too hard. The right amount of difficulty is the golden ratio!

Cramming should be avoided at all costs and should be the last thing a child should do. Make sure your child understands all concepts clearly and is revising them a few times a week. Without revision, most studying is going to be lost in the maze of your mind.

Practice test papers and solving them, often even without any preparation is the way to prepare for exams in the best way. Solving questions exercises the brain the most!

Use ‘Active Learning Tools’ such as flashcards, mindmaps, diagrams, images, videos to supplement preparation. This forces the child to actively engage with the material rather than remain passive in learning.

Follow the above tips and look into the book to improve learning and help your child with exam stress.

6. Improve Time Management:

Many times, a child will have to juggle many school and after-school activities. It might be a good idea to let the child only focus on exams for a while and to help them out with their other stuff.  

The child might also struggle with time management while writing the exam. Anxiety about not finishing the test on time might take over and cause exam stress. Most of this can be taken care of with practice exams which would train the child. This will also give the child a fair idea of how the actual exam might fare and adjust their speed accordingly.

Encourage the child to take help from school teachers as well about the exam and ask for their feedback on their class performance so far. This will also give a much needed third person perspective on the matter.

Hopefully, most of you now have a fair idea of how to help your child with exam stress. It is unlikely that a child will display exam stress symptoms after such an extensive preperation for the exam. Remember, the child usually imitates the parent. So, try not to look too stressed around the child either. Eat well and have faith in your child’s abilities. Do not create a massive fuss as the child becomes afraid of disappointing his loved ones. Assume the best and adopt positivity. Best of luck!

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Article Author

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Shourya Tamta

Shourya Tamta, an enthusiastic and passionate teacher dedicated to making the journey of language acquisition fun and captivating. With 6 years of experience working with students across all age groups, I engage them through dynamic activities to create a fun and comprehensive learning experience.

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