Coping with stress is as much a part of exam success as study prep. Here’s how your child can cope with stress.
You’re doing all you can to facilitate your child’s 11 Plus Exam preparation, but you’re concerned for their health and wellbeing and coping with stress. It’s important to help your child learn to manage these challenges, so the first step is identifying signs of stress, providing the right support for combating it, while giving your child the tools to manage it in healthy ways. Here’s what you need to know:
Identifying stress in your child
Children respond to stress in the same way that adults do – the body floods with stress hormones, adrenalin spikes causing anxiety, and depression and health consequences can follow. But not all stress is bad, in fact the same adrenalin in the right doses can lead to sharpened concentration and better memory. So the key is identifying when things go too far. Signs for stepping in include:
- Disturbed sleep – or new sleep habits like bed wetting, sleep talking or walking
- Inability to sleep
- Fidgeting or restlessness
- Strong negative emotions coming from feeling overwhelmed
- Moodiness and feeling isolated
- An inability to relax or have fun
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed
- Making mistakes where they previously didn’t
- Lack of attention
- Inability to concentrate or remember
- Complaining about headaches, chest pain or shortness of breath caused by anxiety.
How to support your stressed child
Supporting your child is a multi-pronged approach.
- It’s important that your child doesn’t feel alienated through negative feedback, especially if they’re not achieving in the way they (or you) want to achieve.
- Create a study plan with your child that has regular study breaks.
- Ensure your child gets outside for fresh air and exercise.
- Enforce a sensible bedtime and avoid studying close to bedtime.
- Find ways to keep your child calm and rested by managing their other responsibilities.
- Feed your child nutritious food and limit junk food and sweet drinks.
- Be their safe space for sharing their feelings, good or bad.
- Stress can also affect other members of your family. Learn how to keep your household harmonious during this time.
Teach your child to de-stress
While there’s a lot you can do as a parent to minimse your child’s stress, it’s an important life skill for them to learn from a young age. Here are some tips and techniques to teach your child to manage their stress:
- Go for a walk outside to get fresh air and clear your head.
- Do something fun with your friends, play sports or listen to music.
- If you’re having trouble with strong feelings, write about it in a diary, draw or paint.
- Practice taking deep breathes. Breathe in deeply, hold it for a few seconds, then breathe out slowly. Do this a few times until you start feeling calmer.
- Say good things to yourself like I can do this with practice, I have help if I need it, I am smart, I am strong, I can do this. You are your best friend. Don’t say mean things to yourself when you would never say it to someone you care about.
- Don’t bottle your feelings. For example, if you keep anger inside, it can get worse until you explode. When you’re feeling angry or frustrated, shout into your pillow, jump up and down, or make funny noises while shaking your head.
- Picture your success. When you’re positive and you believe in yourself, it’s much easier to succeed. Close your eyes and think about what you want to achieve in your 11 Plus Exam before you start studying, then keep reminding yourself of that and say good things.
- If you find a section or kind of question frustrating, take time away from it by doing another section or taking a break. A fresh mind helps a lot in solving problems.
- Rather than beat yourself up when you’re stuck, retrace your steps to see where you start getting things wrong. You can then ask for help.
Using motivation to manage stress
- Sometimes negative feelings and stress can cause your child to lose motivation or resist studying. To learn more about ways to gently and positively motivate your child, click here.
- You are your child’s number one cheerleader. Read our tips on how to support your child during exam preparation.
- Help manage your child’s nerves by giving them tools for coping on exam day.