How to deal with your child’s exam anxiety
It is undeniable that exams are a very trying time for schools, students and teachers; though advice for parents who are vicariously enduring the secondary stress from their children sitting exams is often overlooked.
Exams undoubtedly have an impact on the entire family unit. Everyone’s family life suddenly revolves around the child who is revising or taking the exam, which can be disruptive for family relations. Suddenly, everyone is walking on eggshells! The exam-sitting-child is most-likely withdrawing from family life, and on top of that is irritable, rude, and badly behaved. This can make everyday life seem like an uphill struggle. Having said this, some children sail through exams with very little stress.
Some parents actually wish that their children would feel more anxious about exams! Though for others, even small tests can cause real anxiety. As a result of these pressures, some children can become vulnerable to tears; sleepless nights and breakdowns. There are lots of ways to help your child deal with exam stress, from practical things like providing healthy, balanced meals, or just being a strong, reliable presence when they are at home.
observes how all parents want their children to be successful, happy and capable of handling life’s stresses, though during exam time, these desires fade and a sense of ‘survival instinct’ kicks in. Due to the fact that parents “often have limited control over the events that their children experience” during the exam period, it can be distressing for them to witness their children in a state of emotional turbulence.
Can begin to think idealistically or logically about how to help their children, rather than practically or emotionally. Parental instinct compels parents to try and protect their children against the things which are making them unhappy. This however can often be manifested in ways which are not necessarily constructive. For example, parents can try to become too involved in the studying process by constantly chivvying on their child to revise, or start to punish them for their surliness and behavioural changes. However, it is important that the child is prioritised. Try to be tolerant and understanding of their mood swings and meltdowns (as much as your nerves can hack it anyway!)
The Telegraph’s 2015 article:
Don’t Let Stress Consume your Family, comments on how pressures can build up within the home itself. Children are extremely receptive to tensions and stresses within their home environment. Morgan Griffiths, managing director of Holland Park Tuition and Education Consultants, explains: “Pressure is usually felt most keenly by the parents, so eager are they to see their child succeed, which in turn is passed back unintentionally on to the child.” Parents and teachers have to be careful not to exacerbate their child’s anxiety.
It is necessary to first understand their worries. You don’t have to find their exam anxiety stressful personally. Simply be able to sympathise and offer them reassurance. Parents are an essential support network that children can depend on, and this becomes even more prevalent during exam time. Even if you just listen to their anxieties, you will be being helpful.
For parents out there who think that their children are being ridiculous, and are worrying over nothing- consider the pressured environment that children are in nowadays. Recently, there has been an upsurge in interest regarding the phenomenon of ‘exam stress’ and ‘test anxiety’ in the UK.
Using student’ performance on high-stakes tests (such as Year 6 SATs and GCSEs) as measures of school and teacher accountability has resulted in the development of an ‘audit culture’ in schools, and has also led to an increase in test-related anxiety. We live in a test-conscious, test-giving culture in which, for a small proportion of students, exams, tests and assessments become a serious obstacle to demonstrating academic achievement.
can have serious impacts on emotional health and wellbeing, so it is crucial that parents try to help their children keep a positive mindset. If home life is as calm and as pleasant as possible, children will feel more at ease, and will feel secure in their environment… The calmer the parent, the calmer the child.
If you feel that you cannot offer them appropriate advice, gently encourage them to speak to a member of school staff that they trust. Whether it’s a form tutor, a teacher or a counsellor, it can be beneficial for children to talk to someone who isn’t within their immediate family.