Mental Health During Exam Period: How To Help if You’re a Parent or Guardian

May 31, 2024 by Minerva Tutors,

Exam periods can be a particularly stressful time for students, with mounting pressure often leading to anxiety and mental health challenges. As a parent or guardian, you play a crucial role in supporting your child through these trying times. Here are some practical strategies to help your child maintain their mental health during exam periods.

Recognise the Signs of Stress

The first step in supporting your child is recognising when they are struggling. Signs of stress can include changes in eating or sleeping patterns, irritability, withdrawal from social activities, and a decline in academic performance. Being vigilant and responsive to these signs can enable you to intervene early and provide the necessary support.

Foster a Positive Environment

Creating a positive and supportive home environment is essential for reducing stress. Encourage open communication where your child feels comfortable expressing their concerns and fears. Validate their feelings and reassure them that it is okay to feel stressed. Your support can make a significant difference in their ability to cope with exam pressures.

Read our blog on creating a productive homeschooling environment

Encourage Healthy Study Habits

Effective study habits can mitigate the stress associated with exams. Help your child develop a realistic study schedule that includes regular breaks. Encourage them to start revision early to avoid last-minute cramming, which can heighten anxiety. Additionally, promote active learning techniques such as summarising information, teaching the material to someone else, or using mind maps.

Promote a Balanced Lifestyle

A balanced lifestyle is critical for maintaining mental health during exam periods. Ensure your child is getting adequate sleep, eating nutritious meals, and engaging in physical activity. Regular exercise, in particular, can reduce stress and improve mood. Encourage them to take breaks and participate in activities they enjoy, whether it’s a hobby, spending time with friends, or simply relaxing.

Teach Stress Management Techniques

Equipping your child with effective stress management techniques can help them navigate exam periods more calmly. Mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga, can be particularly beneficial. Encourage them to take short breaks to practise these techniques, which can help them stay focused and relaxed.

Seek Professional Support if Needed

If your child’s stress seems overwhelming or persistent, it might be necessary to seek professional support. This could include speaking to a school counsellor, a GP, or a mental health professional. These experts can provide strategies tailored to your child’s specific needs and help them develop coping mechanisms.

Lead by Example

Children often model their behaviour on their parents or guardians. Demonstrate healthy ways to cope with stress and maintain a balanced lifestyle yourself. Show them how you handle pressure and the importance of taking care of one’s mental health.

Maintain Perspective

Finally, help your child maintain perspective about exams. Remind them that while exams are important, they do not define their worth or future success. Emphasise the value of learning and personal growth over grades. This perspective can alleviate some of the pressure and help them approach their studies with a healthier mindset.

Supporting your child’s mental health during exam periods involves a combination of recognising stress, fostering a supportive environment, encouraging healthy habits, and teaching stress management techniques. By taking these steps, you can help your child navigate the challenges of exam periods more effectively and maintain their well-being. Remember, your involvement and support can make a significant difference in your child’s ability to manage stress and succeed academically.

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