Exams times can be a stressful not just for kids but also for their parents. As we approach the third semester in our schools, fevers run high on all fronts and students are encouraged continuously to study hard and do well in their exams. How can we, as parents survive this time while supporting those in our care with their own exam concerns?

Keep anxiety under control

Encourage your child to talk about how they are feeling during this time. I find that kids open up more when not put under a spot light for example while driving them to and from various activities. These kind of conversations seem to be less threatening to them then face-to-face conversations. Talk gently about how they are feeling and how they are doing. It is really important for them to know that their well-being and mental health are more important than any Grade A they might get.

Encourage good eating habits

Kids can find it easier to grab a quick snack for a slight glucose boost and carry on with their studying. However, this can lead to an energy slump later on. Encourage kids to keep hydrated and eat well while studying. Plan ahead (I usually plan the meals of a whole week) and involve them in the planning phase. Make sure that they are getting good food to see them though this stressful time.

Exercise, exercise, exercise

The cycle of study-eat-sleep-study-repeat is tiring and kids can get less done if they are stuck to their desk all day long. Studying time is not the best time to stop football, dancing, athletics or any other sports they enjoy doing. They might decide to not compete during this time, however stopping exercise all together might not be a good idea. Physical exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifter and this can help our kids re-boot and get back to work with a fresher mind-set.

Encourage them to set up a study time table

Help kids set up a study time table that includes rest, sports and being with family and friends. Encourage them to start well ahead so that they can revise in time and hopefully refrain from spending the last couple of nights cramming information before an exam.

Stick to realistic expectations

At times, I’m afraid that we put too much pressure on our kids to be the best academically and forget that life is not only about exams but about being decent, being kind, being creative. Help your kids be the best they can be academically, push them if you think they have the potential but gently and with loads of love. Our kids need to know that whatever results they get they will still be supported and cherished.

Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on anna@willingness.com.mt or call us on 79291817.