Last year we looked at the effects of exam stress on children and parents, and how to navigate this pressured period in a healthy way. In this post we’d like to go a little further in exploring the stress that children deal with, and how adopting positive coping mechanisms can help them not only during exams, but throughout life and the myriad stresses it will bring. Because let’s face it, a life without stress is wishful thinking. And by teaching our kids to better manage stress, we ensure that they flourish instead of flounder when it comes to the curveballs that life will inevitably throw their way.
All children respond to a bit of loving pressure from parents when it comes to performing well at school. However, when this pressure becomes too much it can have a rather destructive effect. For example, children might internalize their parents’ concerns and worry intensely about their academic achievement. What this worry does, in turn, is become an obstacle to this desired achievement. Instead, they are fearful and anxious, which could lead to under-performance. As a result, children could experience a sharp decline in confidence, feeling as if they aren’t good enough or incapable of doing well. Sure, it’s a bleak picture, but a reality for many. The good news is that it’s entirely avoidable. Firstly, know what to look for in a child overwhelmed by stress and understand that without your help and support their situation could escalate immensely. Problems with sleep, changes in appetite, low moods and irritability, and lack of concentration are all signs of acute stress. Children under a lot of stress and pressure also complain about headaches, tummy aches, and often use these as excuses to miss school. If left unchecked, these symptoms could become progressively worse until finally developing into a much more serious mental health condition, like anxiety disorder or major depression.
As parents, we all want the best for our kids, and that includes seeing them succeed in school and life in general. Taking action early will prevent things getting out of control and can be as simple as introducing a balanced diet and regular exercise to their routine. Be cautious about negative criticism and absolutely out of control when it comes to praising your child and letting them know you’re there to support them no matter what. During exam time in particular: