Encouraging children to do their best
When it comes to exams, recent news highlights the severe stress exam season can cause young children. Meanwhile, around five million students are in the throes of sitting their GCSEs right now across the country. So how is best for them to prepare? And what advice can we follow when it comes to best identifying and helping children through any exam stress?
IDENTIFYING EXAM STRESS AND HELPING CHILDREN COPE WITH IT
Child psychologist expert Dr Ramya Mohan, a Senior Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Educator with the National Health Service UK, gives her top tips to identifying and helping children to cope with exam stress:
1) Identify exam stress early
Look out for warning signs that your child/ teenager is stressed or suffering from anxiety. These signs might 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) 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.
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.
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 that your child/teenager takes 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 Mohan specialises in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and is an expert within Neurodevelopmental disorders, Developmental Neuropsychiatry and Psychopharmacology. You can find out more at: