De-stressing the Exams: A Guide for Parents

Author: Dan Keating/25 March 2016/Categories: Parents, Help them Revise

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Student studying for exam

The most important thing for students to know in the lead up to exams is – PREPARATION!

Students will be prone to stress and anxiety in the lead up to the exams due to the pressure to perform well and getting the results they need and want. Make sure they are in control of themselves through preparation. Parents need to know how to manage stressed out teenagers and understand how they can function around it.

In order to perform well, we all need a certain amount of stress. There are two types of stress. The positive one revolves around putting on the pressure to up our game and set up to the mark – raising our own standards. Having little or no stress can have as stressful effects on us as too much stress. It’s important to challenge ourselves, to have some stress for motivation. 
On the other hand, too much stress and over-working ourselves can lead to exhaustion and anxiety. Stress is derived from the psychological thinking of the inability to be able to cop or meet with the demands thrown on us. Junior Cert and Leaving Cert exams are one the leading events to test our stress levels to the max. Stress can affect all students differently affecting all areas in your life – physically, emotionally, mentally, family life, friendships, all different relationships, financially and of course educationally.

Stress can affect you physically due to the effect on the nervous system. Students are more exposed to sicknesses such as sleeping insomnia, anxiety and colds. There is cycle of stress that is brought on by students. It begins very subtly and builds over a period time. It’s crucial to keep your eye on your student and their health during this time as mentioned above stress leads to illnesses. This has been proven medically, that stress has an immense effect on health and wellbeing.

The typically cycle of stress involves:

- First signs; usually physical. E.g. Irregular stomach pain with bowel problems, pains to the head and back, sleep irregularities. Students become uneasy and moody with a sense of fear.
- Secondly; mentally. A stream of conscious and unconscious thoughts trickles through their minds, through thoughts and emotions. These emotions include self-doubt, anxiety and worry. 
- Thirdly, only in unchecked situations. This can lead to health problems, isolation, loneliness and paranoia then leading to negative thoughts of suicide. If you feel your child has gone this far, it is crucial to contact professional advisors to help with the situation. Please do not leave the situation untouched.

It is so important for you, as a parent, to acknowledge these emotions and signals to provide support and guidance through the period of time, of the exams. In order to get a good performance and provide stability throughout, you need to remind your children to have a good thought process. Negative thoughts above things they can’t control e.g. subjects they are not good at, etc. can lead to even more stress. It is important to remind them of their capabilities and their strengths e.g. they may be good at one subject, but they are amazing at these others subjects. Keep that thought process happy involving their good talents as well as their achievements. This will pay off, in order to have a less stressful child come June.

To rebound the stress brought on your child, you must teach them these simple rules. To boost their self-belief through tackling challenges head on. Plan their time and study well in advance and help them adjust their behaviour to support themselves through this stressful time. It takes only small steps to achieve a stress free period during the exams but remember a little stress can do no harm! 

Get that A!



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