Helping Your Child Manage Exam Stress

Claire’s Top Tips                                            


Examination stress can hit even the best prepared young person and affect how they cope with tests and their everyday lives. In a recent survey Child Line found that 96% of young people are anxious about exams and revision. Many young people need extra sensitivity and support during exam times.

Here are some tips to help you and your child manage exam stress.

Top Tip 1

Do find the right balance between being supportive and fussing. Ask your child how much they want you to show your interest and when to leave them to get on with studying. Be there to listen to their concerns as well as encouraging them to take exam and revision questions to their teachers or access their school’s revision support if they find that helpful.

Top Tip 2

Do help your child create a good place to study, ideally somewhere well lit, with a clear surface to work on and relatively quiet so they can concentrate. Distract brothers and sisters during revision time so they are less likely to pester and disturb the person studying.

Top Tip 3

Do make practical suggestions such as showing your child simple ways to manage tension. Try this quick relaxation with your child – tense up and shrug your shoulders as high as they will go then let them drop and relax, tense your hands by making a fist and then shake them loosely and last of all take three long slow breaths. These simple actions can release tension in muscles and help reduce stress, your child could even try it during the exam.

Top Tip 4

Do encourage your child to look after their health. Eating well, taking exercise and seeing friends all keep their energy and motivation up. Remind them to take regular breaks from their desk or computer, even a short time away can rest their eyes, relaxes tense shoulder muscles and increases their concentration when they return to their revision.

Top Tip 5

Do keep your own anxieties to yourself. If you talk about how difficult tests are or tell stories of exam disasters you’ll raise everyone’s fears.

Top Tip 6

Do let your child off most of their chores just before exams, so long as they use the extra time to revise.

Top Tip 7

When each exam comes around encourage your child to spend the evening before relaxing and getting to bed on time. Losing even an hours sleep can reduce concentration the next day.

Top Tip 8

Do help your child to get to the exam on time, maybe treat them to a lift that day or walk in with them, they’ll feel calmer if they are not rushing or worrying about being late.

Top Tip 9

Many children feel examinations these days are more difficult and stressful than they were when you took them. Avoid getting into an argument about this, it’s more helpful to recognise that all examinations are stressful and challenging without competing to see who had the worst time.

Top Tip 10

Do remind your child that you love them no matter how well they do in exams and praise them for trying rather than offering big rewards for high exam scores.

For support if your family is under exam stress call the Family Lives helpline on 0808 800 2222.

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