The purpose of exams are to provide an opportunity to demonstrate and assess what has been learned at school and through study and homework. It is not meant to stress your child out - but this is often what occurs.
To keep your children well and in good mental and physical health, it is important to maintain balance. This can sometimes be a challenge when time pressures and various demands collide. Help your children to prioritise their commitments during an exam period by shifting revision and study to the forefront for a few weeks and providing flexibility for other commitments.
The three core principles for wellbeing are even more critical to help your child stay mentally fit at exam time:
Even during busy times aim for eight to ten hours of sleep per night. Sleep is important to: integrate the day’s activities and learning into our memory; allow the body and mind the required rest; reduce stress hormones; and help us to be prepared for the demands of the next day.
Ensure your child eats a healthy, varied diet including a good breakfast to start the day. Try not to over emphasise foods or restrict foods, unless there are medical reasons for this.
Sustain regular exercise as it helps to keep the body and mind healthy. It increases energy, focus and alertness, and stimulates hormones associated with wellbeing, helping to keep stress and anxiety at bay.
Some other tactics that can help your child during exam time are to praise effort and attempts in their education, rather than focus on end results. Even when the results are good, emphasise the preparation, focus, discipline and hard work that went into the achievement. In sport this is the team work, sportsmanship, determination, and collaboration that is displayed, where even a loss can be viewed as a win.
With an emphasis on personal bests and long term improvement, fulfilling one’s potential becomes the success, with less emphasis on a single exam or result.
Encourage realistic or even neutral self-talk over negative and critical self-talk. Pick children up on this from the early years and encourage them to speak supportively of themselves and others, as this helps to prevent depression and anxiety. Also, bear this in mind when commenting about yourself or giving feedback.
It’s also helpful to introduce your child to relaxation activities such as meditation and mindfulness, or breathing techniques to manage stress levels and focus the mind.
Keeping connected and communicating with your child during times of stress and challenge helps them to cope and stay emotionally balanced. Make time to check in with your child regularly, even joining them in physical activity, study, a good meal or celebrations afterwards. Social support is also important to help adolescents cope with stress, so encourage them to maintain contact with their friends, permitting a break from study when some progress has been made.
Life can present us with plenty of struggles and challenges, opportunities and some setbacks. Exams can be part of challenge - view them as another opportunity for your child to grow and learn. Share some of your own or other role models’ experiences with challenges and how persistence, planning, determination and focus helped you to overcome them.
If you are concerned with your child’s mental wellbeing your doctor or paediatrician are both great resources for you and your child. The Counselling Department at Trinity is staffed by registered psychologists who welcome contact from students or anyone in our parent community wanting to discuss concerns relating to their children.
Trinity is fuelled by a pastorally aware culture with exceptionally high levels of individual student attention, and we pride ourselves on knowing, understanding and nurturing every student.
To learn more about the Trinity difference and how we help boys to realise their potential, passions and purpose in life, download our prospectus.