Yes it’s that time of year when those who are parents are having to contend with exam stress. Most of us will have been there, most of us will know what it’s like and remember only too well those horrific feelings of anxiety, of dread of panic and it’s NOT a pleasant feeling.
It seems fairly obvious that as parents you would do anything for your children not to have to contend with the anxiety they are feeling right now and I’m sure you are already on the case trying to make life a little easier for them, to see them through this hugely stressful period. However as with anything hugely emotional in a household, these things tend to have a ripple effect to all those living in the same space. So what can you do to help yourself, to keep others in the house relatively calm and therefore create a calm space for those taking the actual exams?
- Recognise that unfortunately or maybe fortunately you are not able to take the exams for them and this is something they are just going to have to go through as hard as it may seem.
- Remember that they will pick up on your worry and your anxiety so do whatever you can to take that out of their orbit and if that means that there are times when you have to take yourself off for a walk or something that keeps you calm, then do it!
- Focus on the practical things you can do – make sure you have plenty of healthy snacks in the house during revision periods, let the children know they are there for them to help themselves and encourage them to drink regularly and take short breaks.
- Try and keep the rest of the family to a “normal” routine. Structure keeps us focused and keeping things normal will help to take the pressure off the child sitting the exam and not feeling like the centre of attention as well as all the other pressures they are feeling.
- Remind yourself regularly that these are exams. Yes, they are important, yes, they will lead to other things but they are NOT everything. There are options to re-take, there are other paths to take, you never know they might actually sail through them getting the results they want but ultimately, they will have tried and that is the most important thing.
If you are struggling with your children’s exams (you are allowed to admit to that) then talk to other parents, talk to adult friends, share your feelings because I suspect many others are feeling the same way. Find healthy ways for you to manage your stress to allow you to help your child manage theirs. Calm parents keep kids calm!