The exam period is the most challenging time for parents. Whenever the exam period is nearing, parents become the ants on a hot pan (热锅上的蚂蚁), where the parents are highly anxious due to deep worry for their children.
Being an adult, we have been through the phase and we understand better than most children how the results will affect the path ahead. We ended up worrying about our children and want them to be by their side all the time and provide them with as much support as we can. However, you may wonder what can I do to support my child the best I can without adding more pressure to them.
I’ve put together 7 great tips on how you can support your child during the exam period from my own experiences. Feel free to adjust or pick the tips that suit you and your family.
Tip #1 Make yourself available
Exam periods are notorious for feeling overwhelming for both kids and their parents, but the biggest challenge is how to keep the entire family together.
Many times, we may subconsciously push our children to the maximum limit, losing the awareness that they need the space to concentrate. It is important to find a balance between having your own space and their little space to concentrate and relax.
Allow your child to have a study space that is comfortable and can contain their need to study. It could be standing up, sitting on a beanbag or having music on in the background.
Exam periods are notorious for feeling overwhelming for both children and parents, hence is important to give each other space to focus and breathe. Just make sure that you are available when they need your help and support. That way, they will feel more secure and take their own accountability and responsibility for their own studies.
Tip #2 Be flexible
If your child has exams during the weekend, try to make an effort to be at home during that time. You may need to change your routine slightly to make time for your child while they are studying.
Hey, is only for this short period.
For example, if your child has a test on a Monday, try to change a planned activity or arrange a different activity to take place over the weekend. It may seem like a small thing to change, but it will help your child to feel less stressed and more at ease.
Tip #3 Don’t hover
As much as I want to help my child, I also don’t want to make them even more stressed out.
Hovering made the children feel overwhelmed like they need to do more. They felt pressured and they may break down. I’ve seen this in many of the students I’ve taught and I always make a conscious effort not to do that to my children.
Trust our children to have the coping mechanisms to get through this. If there’s a need to step in and help them, do it gently and with respect for their needs.
We’ve all been there and I bet you know how it feels when someone is always sitting right beside you breathing down your neck.
You want to help your child, but you also don’t want to make them even more stressed out or groom them to heavily rely on you for every exam.
Tip #4 Show your child you care
Exam periods are stressful for children and can feel even more overwhelming for those who are dealing with any type of anxiety. Children with anxiety are already prone to perform poorly under pressure, which makes exams even more difficult.
I have seen a case where a child felt so pressured to perform well in his exams that he broke down while the exam paper was handed to him. He couldn’t even answer any of the questions as his mind went blank.
To help my children feel less stressed and more at ease, I always try to show them that I care by doing things that make their day, such as giving them a special treat or telling them how much I love them and that I’ll be there for them if they need me talk to them.
I always make a conscious effort to reassure them that they can do it, and remind them they’re amazing.
Tip #5 Encourage your child
This is so important not only during exam periods only!
Encouragement helps to build self-confidence and the effort the child has put into what they do. With encouragement, our children are more motivated to build and maintain that positive study habits and lead them to achieve their goals.
To encourage them, it is not just saying “Great job” or “Well done!”. What exactly is great or well?
I will talk about how proud I am of them for their effort in doing well in what they do. That way, they feel validated and they will take the responsibility to finish what they’re doing and put down the phone!
Tip #6 Distract them with activities
I do notice that sometimes my children have trouble focusing and they started fidgeting after some time. In that case, you know is time to have a short break.
It can be boring when you read and write for a long period. It is helpful to have something else going on in the background that distracts them from their task and gives them something else to think about.
How I help my children and even myself is by turning on the radio in the background, reading or doing a puzzle. Any activity that is not too strenuous and can help your child feel less stressed and later focused back on, do it!
Tip #7 Talk to them regularly
Checking in with your child often by asking your child how their day was and what they learnt is a great way to show that you care about them.
Personally, I love to ask
– whether anything fun or exciting or interesting happened or
– any positive event of the day that they want to celebrate or
– any negative event of the day that they want to talk about
If your child is struggling with some negativity, it can help them to feel less stressed if you try to remind them that they can do it. You can also try to help them to stay positive by reminding them that they are great at what they do and that they can do it.
Checking in on them and validating their feelings shows that you care about them.
Exam periods are difficult for everyone, but they can be especially challenging for children who have an anxiety disorder. It is important for us (as parents) to be supportive and encouraging to our children, and be ready to offer help if needed.
If you have more tips to share, do comment below so that we can help other parents too.
If you have other challenges, do comment as well so that we can support one another by searching for a better solution for them.