Research has indicated that there are a number of things parents can do to reduce the anxiety that children experience during exam time.
The first thing is to talk to your child– find out how they are feeling about their exams. Listen, try not to criticise or judge. Explore their fears and expectations. Remind your child that it is normal to feel nervous or anxious about exams. Certain levels might even be useful in helping them focus on revision. You may also want to consider sharing your experiences of exams with your child; this may well be helpful if your reactions were similar to your child’s. Ask them what they need from you right now in terms of support /reassurances.
Secondly, keep the perspective. It’s only natural to want our children to succeed in life and to do well in exams but it is also important to bear in mind that their success and happiness will depend on many things such as confidence, self-esteem, the way they relate to themselves and others, and having a wide range of skills (academic as-well as vocational)
Their ability to cope with failure will also be important as it’s a fact of life –we will all fail at something. Indeed, it is by failing that human beings acquire resilience. As a parent therefore your job is not to stop your child from failing (although it’s very natural that you will want to) but to be there to help them cope and grow from the experience.
Third, during the examination period be as re-assuring and affirming of your child and all their achievements (academic and non-academic) as you can. A child that can “hold onto” all aspects of themselves will be more likely to perform better than one that does not.
Fourth, remind yourself and your child that it won’t be the end of the world for you, or them if things don’t go according to plan. Make yourself and your child aware of the options/choices. For example, if they fail an exam, they may be able to re-sit it. Keep in your and your child’s mind therefore that life will give them plenty of opportunities to succeed, this need only be a temporary set back where “failing” now doesn’t mean they continue to “fail”. In other words, failure in exams now does not a “failure make“. Nor does it mean they have failed you the parent – just like it means you have not “failed “ them – the child.
Take good care readers.