8 ways to identify and avoid exam stress

As exam season approaches, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Educator, Dr Rama Mohan shares 8 tips for parents to help their children avoid stress.

Exam season is drawing ever closer and with it will come the inevitable nerves, stress and disruption to both the student and their families. Here are eight ways in which parents can identify and help children and teenagers to cope with and stay on top of any exam pressure they may be feeling.

1. Identify exam stress early

Look out for warning signs that your child/ teenager is stressed or suffering from anxiety
Signs include sleep disturbances, erratic/ poor eating, low mood, low confidence, frustration/ anger, queasy tummies, headaches and flaring up of skin conditions such as eczema

2. Set realistic goals and expectations

Understand your child’s/teenager’s strengths and interests and focus on those, whilst acknowledging their weaknesses. Reinforce that failure is a normal part of learning

3. Make learning fun

Depending on your child’s age, make learning an exciting activity. Use toys and tools to aid in their education and revision

4. Make a good working environment

Create a consistent environment at home for your child/ teenager to study e.g. create a revision corner that is comfortable and inviting to work in.

5. Plan ahead for each exam

Have an exam rota in a visible place to everyone in the family, i.e. on the fridge or next to the front door. This ensures you all know what exam is when.

6. Create to-do lists

Ensure your child/ teenager has practical and simple considerations in place i.e. let them know you will drive them to each exam so they don’t need to worry they might be late, or ensure your child has access to a quiet space should they require it for revision etc.

7. Communicate

Ask your child/ teenager how their revision is going and how their exams are going. A simple conversation at the end of the day and giving positive feedback on their efforts will go a long way.

8. Take a break

Encourage relaxation and your child/ teenager taking part in other activities to unwind i.e. playing football, painting, meeting friends etc. Music and art are ideal activities to aid in stress relief, reducing anxiety and stress management.

Dr Rama Mohan is a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Educator with the National Health Service UK (NHS) since 2008. Dr Mohan specialises in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and is an expert within Neurodevelopmental disorders, Developmental Neuropsychiatry and Psychopharmacology.

Ramya is running a solo art exhibition and a community Art Mosaic project (16-20 May 2016) and launching her novel music-based therapeutic technique CAPE (19th May) during this year’s Mental Health Week. Details of the events are on www.ramyamohan.com.

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