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Advice for Exam Stress: Parents & Students

Advice for Exam Stress: Parents & Students


Watch out for exam stress

Children who experience stress may be irritable, not sleep well, lose interest in food, worry a lot and appear depressed or negative.  Headaches and stomach pains can also be stress-related.  Having someone to talk to about their work can help.  Support from a parent/carer, tutor or study buddy can help children share their worries and keep things in perspective.  If you feel your child is not coping, talk to their teachers at school. Useful website: 

Make sure you child eats well

A balanced diet is vital for your child's health and can help them to feel well during exam periods.  Some parents/carers find that too many high-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine foods and drinks (such as fizzy-drinks and cola, sweets, chocolate, burgers and chips) make their children hyperactive, irritable and moody.

Help your child get enough sleep

Good sleep will improve thinking and concentration.  Most teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours sleep a night.  Allow half an hour or so for children to wind down between studying, watching TV or using a computer and going to bed to help them get a good night's sleep.  Cramming all night before an exam is usually a bad idea.  Sleep will benefit your child far more than a few hours of panicky last-minute study.

Be flexible during exams

Advice is for parents/carers to be flexible around exam time.  When your child is revising all day, don't worry about household jobs that are left undone or untidy bedrooms.  Staying calm yourself can help.  Remember, exams don't last forever!

Help them to study

Help your child revise by making sure they have somewhere comfortable to study.  Help them draw up a revision schedule or ask the school for one.

Talk about exam nerves

Remind your child that feeling anxious is normal.  Nervousness is a natural reaction to exams.

The key is to put these nerves to positive use.  Being reminded of what they do know and the time they have put into study can help them feel confident.  Encourage exercise during exams

Make sure your children are active.  Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress. Walking, cycling, swimming, football and dancing are all effective.

Don't add to the pressure

Support groups say that many of the children who contact them feel that the greatest pressure at exam time comes from their family.  Keep things in perspective, listen to them, give support and avoid criticism.  Before they go in for a test or exam, be reassuring and positive.  Make sure they know that failing isn't the end of the world, and that if things don't go well they may be able to take the exam again.  After each exam, encourage your child to talk it through with you.  Then move on and focus on the next test, rather than dwelling on things that can't be changed.

Make time for treats

When the exams are over, help your child celebrate by organising an end-of-exams treat.

Don't use rewards as bribes.  Instead, encourage your child to work for their own satisfaction, offering small, frequent treats.


Stress, Worries & Anxiety

Feeling anxious can happen when we feel nervous, frightened or uneasy about something.  It is okay to feel this way from time to time, as it is our body’s natural response to a situation we are not comfortable with.  It’s common to feel tense, nervous and perhaps fearful at the thought of a stressful event or decision you’re facing.  For example starting or moving school, moving home, or sitting a test or exam are all things that could make someone worried.  We might get butterflies in our stomach, feel shaky, and our minds can race or feel confused. It can feel weird, but you are not alone – everyone feels this way from time to time.

How do you know when it could be a problem

Feeling a little bit anxious or stressed is completely normal, so long as you feel better soon.  If you find you are remaining nervous, worried or scared for a long time – or very regularly then it could be an issue.

Here’s some things that can help

  • Don’t get cross with yourself. It’s normal to get worried about things.  Be kind to yourself!
  • Get enough sleep and healthy food.  This is so, so important.
  • Learn some breathing and relaxation exercises, you can find these easily online.
  • Get out and let off steam; being physical and exercising helps release stress-busting hormones.
  • Connect with friends and loved ones, and get regular hugs.
  • Pay attention to good things in life, and think about what you’re looking forward to.

Getting Help

  • Talk to someone in your family about your worries.
  • School can help – speak to your tutor, mentor, year head or another member of staff you trust.  They can help and put in place help with revision timetables, getting you help for stress/anxiety.

Useful Websites Free online counselling service for teenagers in Brighton Revision and tutoring app Youtube video of 5 ways of wellbeing Youtube video of revision tips and beating stress Young minds – a voice for young people’s mental health and wellbeing