How do parents cope with exam stress?

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Well school holidays are over for Aussie students (well those in Victoria at least) and term 4 can only mean 1 thing – exams ! BIG ones for those in year 12 hoping to get an ATAR score that will put them in their university course of their dreams. But teachers seem to love marking exams (or is it parents that love to chart their child’s progress?) – so testing times are ahead for almost all students -whatever their age.

So what about the exam stress parents feel? What help and advice do they get?

Parents continually ask the following 3 questions:

1. Are they studying enough?
2. Are they looking after themselves and
3. Are they going to get the results they need?

On top of that parents have flashbacks of their exam times.

So here are some do’s and don’ts to help them through the next few weeks.

DON’T be pushy and threaten them – it really doesn’t help
DON’T bribe them.
DON’T expect any contribution around the house (chores etc)
DON’T police them – at some point they will need to stand on their own feet.
DON’T nag them – their teachers have done plenty of that already.

DO accept that they are stressed and give them some additional space for their moods – show them tolerance.
DO talk to school and get a copy of their exam timetable and their student number. If the teachers tell you about the amount of work your child needs to do remember that they are heavily biased. Maybe sit down with them and help them organise their revision time table.
DO feed them well and encourage regular breaks with plenty of Milo.
DO create a positive environment with opportunities for light fun moments and daily feedback on their efforts.
DO discuss guidelines (not make rules) and provide gentle motivation (a fine line to find I know).
DO celebrate together when the exams are over – maybe their favourite meal or going out to eat.

These will reduce the stress in your family and reinforce that their effort is what will reward them – doing their best is more important than a high score.

And remember it’s their life and their actions will provide their consequences.

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