How You Can Help Your Children Beat Exam Stress

It's exam season - and teenagers all over the country are facing up to the pressure of showing what they know in their end-of-year or final exams. We look at how you can best support them during this testing period.

Sitting exams can, inevitably, be a very stressful time for many young people. They can really feel the pressure and find it a very difficult experience.

However much you want to help, you can only do so much. You can't sit the exams for them, and it will really come down to them on the day. However, you can provide support - both practical and emotional - to let your child know that you are there to help them.

By providing the right kind of supporting environment at home, you can really make a difference - keeping stress to a minimum and helping your child do themselves justice in the exam hall throughout the exam period. These tips should help you to help your teenager cope with exam stress.

Be understanding

The first thing to remember is that a little bit of stress around exam time is likely, if not inevitable. Your teen may become extra moody and tempers may occasionally flare. Try not to take it personally. Maybe your teenager needs to let off a bit of steam - and maybe you can help by letting them do so in your direction! If necessary, give them a little bit of space to themselves so they can cool down - and remind yourself: it is just the nerves talking.

Give them space

While your teen may need a little support from time to time - especially if they are finding things difficult - they will also need the space to knuckle down, distraction-free. Let them know that if they need to talk to you, they can, but recognise that they may just want to get on with things without you checking in constantly.

Help them to feel positive

If you do think your teen is finding things hard, make sure you are on hand to encourage them and help them feel looked after. If they are feeling overwhelmed, try to help them see things in a positive light. Remind them of the work they have been putting in and congratulate them on any progress they have been making.

Provide small treats

This will help them to feel important and cared for. Things like their favourite food, new equipment for the exams or small gifts will all help them to feel that you have noticed they are under a bit of pressure and want to help them feel good.

Avoid large rewards

It might seem like a great idea to offer extravagant gifts or large amounts of money for exam success. However, while it can act as an incentive - it may also become an extra pressure. Give them something to look forward to. Again, not a monetary incentive or a big gift, but something that they can think about for when this is all over: a day out together, a trip to the cinema, or a holiday you have planned.

Don't add to the pressure

Although it is important to be reassuring and supportive, do not make your teen feel that anything other than top marks would be a disaster. You may feel like you're building their confidence by telling them you're expecting them to do well, but they may worry you'll be disappointed if they don't fulfil your expectations. Encourage your teen to try their best, but do not make exams seem like the most important thing in the world.

Encourage healthy habits

It really is important to not let things slide during exam season - and that in a panic, good eating and exercise habits don't disappear. Eating well, staying hydrated and doing some daily exercise will help your teen fulfil their potential. Simple breathing exercises and relaxation techniques - easily found on YouTube, for example - will also be beneficial.

Help them to forget about it all!

Try to get the message across that, once their exams are over, there is no point in worrying - because there is nothing they can do at that stage. They need to think about their exams as little as possible until the results come out. Then, hopefully, you can all celebrate them together.

Additional resources:

The following websites also offer excellent exam advice and de-stress techniques, which you may find useful: