Exam Stress


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Helping your child go from ‘worrier’ to WARRIOR!
Exam stress and anxiety is a reality in most homes at this time of year. Whether your child is writing his first formal tests in Grade 4, or about to begin her Grade 12 mid-year exams, the stress can send even the most prepared student into a panic. So how can we as parents support, encourage and empower our children to break the worry cycle and move from anxiety to action?

1. Don’t jump into the worry whirlpool with them.
Your child needs to know you believe in him and in his ability to succeed.

2. Disable the Labels.
Often our children have already decided before the exam that, “I’m going to fail” or, “I’m too stupid to get a good mark”. Labels are dangerous because whether they are self-imposed or given by someone else, our brain believes them and we start behaving accordingly. (Labels can actually become limiting beliefs that you carry with you into your future). Disable the labels by building your child with genuine, realistic, positive affirmations.

3. Healthy body = Healthy mind.
A healthy diet is so important for all of us. Irregular meals and take-away food leave us feeling sluggish and the high sugar content in most fast foods can bring on low or erratic moods as well as affect concentration. Children studying for exams need to have consistent energy levels and maximum concentration in order to be able to do their very best. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day is also so important. Did you know that if the brain is just 10% dehydrated it functions at only 50% ?

4. Balance- Work, Play, Love
Studying for exams is first of all about a whole lot of hard work and self-discipline. It’s about taking out your books and putting in the time and effort required to understand and learn the work. Its study notes, mind maps and repetition, whatever works best for your child, but they need to see it, hear it and say it out loud for maximum memory retention. However, all work and no play is going to drain any brain. There has to be a balance, and getting out to play and exercise in the fresh air is the best way to do this.
For every 90 minutes of studying there should be a half hour of ‘play’ time, then back for the next sprint. (This is known as the 90 minute sprint - the brains optimal functioning for working on a task.) And finally, love. Family and friend support and encouragement makes all the difference and making time to connect with special people not only relieves stress but also helps in keeping perspective. There is life during and after exams!

5. Visualize Success
Before the exam, encourage your child to spend time with you or on their own if they are older, visualizing themselves being successful. Some examples of powerful visualizations before an exam are;
-Being calm and confident as they walk into the exam room.
-Feeling completely prepared for the test as the exam paper is handed out.
-‘Seeing’ their brain with all the information they need for the exam ready and available.
-Looking at the questions on the exam paper and knowing the answers to each question.
-Feeling calm as they are writing the exam.
-A sense of satisfaction and victory as they hand their paper in.
NOTE: Always use ‘I’ statements when doing visualizations eg.
“I am confident and calm as I walk into the exam room.”

Wishing you children every success in their exams,

Yours in Coaching,