Exam Stress – How to Help Your Child to Stay Calm

by ParentalChoice
in Parenting, Education, Children
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Exams are not just stressful for the children taking them but they can affect the whole family.  Here are some ideas for the family to adopt to help limit stress levels at exam time.

It seems that formal academic testing of our children is starting earlier these days. Some parents are so incensed about the pressures their children are facing due to Year 6 SATS that they are threatening to refuse to let their children sit them.

A more sensible approach is to view these examinations as a learning curve. Exams teach us how to deal with stress positively and to understand the link between effort and results. They are a chance to learn skills such as revision, time-management and self-care in the face of pressure. But, while an exam result is an indication of intelligence and effort, it is a marker in the sand. Results are calculated taking into account the performance of your child’s peers and may be affected by variables such as how the child felt on the day. We need to explain to our kids that the result of their test will be an indication of their current ability. With the proviso, of course, that they need to give their best effort.

Here are some things parents can do to help their children.

  • Don’t over-react

This will only add undue pressure to an already stressed child.

  • Make sure you familiarise yourself with your child’s curriculum and study topics

Working with your child throughout the academic year means you will be better placed to help them with their revision.

  • Invest in some study guides

There is a lot of age-appropriate / Key Stage learning material you can buy or download from educational websites.

  • Set a regular study timetable

Have study ‘periods’ of about 45 minutes and help your child work through a topic book or past paper.

  • Limit distractions

All gadgets stay off until the revision is done!

  • Add an incentive

Whether this is extra family time – such as a trip to the cinema, make sure you prioritise down time too.

  • Ban Late Nights

For the whole family. You’ll need your sleep to cope with a stressed child and to keep your patience in the face of the inevitable “I don’t want to revise” rebellion.

  • Improve your diet

Relying on take-aways and junk foods will make you all feel low. Now is the time for some proper home cooked meals.

  • Buddy up

Why not form a little study group with your child’s best buddies and their parents. The kids may be better off studying in a more relaxed atmosphere and can do a fun activity once the work has been done.

  • Work with the school

If your child is really struggling, talk to your child’s teacher to see if there is the possibility of any extra tuition or support.

  • Watch for signs of extreme anxiety / depression

If your child is really suffering badly from exam stress, you need to get them to open up and talk about their fears. It may be worth taking them to see your GP if their anxiety symptoms are becoming unmanageable.

As parents there is a lot we can do to help our child and, in doing so, help ourselves to feel a little more confident too.


Thanks to Mother Distracted, Linda Hobbis, a blogger on lifestyle and parenting. More of her views can be found at

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