Many children at school this term face exams. In fact many will have spent recent holidays revising.

Each year there is increasing pressure for the kids to do well, from schools, teachers and parents and it’s inevitable that many of them will be suffering from stress. But it’s often the case that this is not acknowledged; it’s easy to think of school days still as ‘the happiest time of our lives’ as the cliché goes.

The exam term certainly isn’t. Some parents would never even accept that youngsters today have far more pressure put upon them than the generation before. We contribute to that by saying things like ‘you do too much gaming’, or ‘when I was your age…’ etc. So we need to be aware as parents that we’re not putting on extra pressure with similar comments. Our support is what will help them through and help them do well.

It’s also important that they know we’re on their side and it’s sometimes helpful to talk about results in the perspective of a wider life. For example results don’t always accurately describe a person’s ability or intelligence and some people make good even though they might not get the intended grades. These conversations are not intended to devalue qualifications but to put them in the context of a whole of a life’s achievements.

There are several good websites that give suggestions for helping children through a stressful exam time. The NHS is one example, and the BBC another.

The mental health charity Mind also gives some useful tips about stress and how to cope with it.

Most of them suggest that we can help by:

  1. Showing support by either practical help if they want it, interest, or providing a calm and conducive environment at home for them to study or unwind in
  2. Being aware that our youngsters are under pressure and refrain from adding to it at this time with less important demands like tidy bedrooms or whatever
  3. Providing good nutrition, although less nutritious favourites and treats at a time like this are probably just as valuable
  4. Encouraging and allowing rest and sleep whatever time or pattern suits them
  5. Providing or encouraging alternative or new physical activities which help dilute the effects of stress enormously and offer a distraction too

It’s general common sense really, but we too can get swept up in the stress of the moment so it’s helpful to have these quick suggestions to refer to and remember.



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