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  • Writer's pictureP.E.T. South Africa

How to help your child cope during exams

For children across the country, October marks the start of their final examination period. Soon all jokes will be set aside, teachers will be in revision overdrive, and children will become acquainted with every tipp-ex marking on their desks.

Naturally, exam time is a stressful time for many children. And while they are behind their desks cramming every bit of their textbooks and notes, parents are left wondering whether they've done enough to help their offspring succeed.

Of course, rules become stricter and the boundary lines clearer, but what if it all becomes a little too much?

No parent wants to see their young one crack under pressure to perform.

Therefore, it's wise to approach the rules and boundaries we set during the exam period with caution and empathy.

The secret to doing well in exams lies in planning. But apart from the heaps of learning material your child needs to get through, there also needs to be a proper plan in place to help manage stress, frustration, and anger during this time.

Make time to have a proper conversation with your child long before the study period begins.

Here's a list of topics to help you on your way:

  • Start by acknowledging the challenging time ahead. Make your child aware that you are available, and offering support.

  • Ask about your child's fears and expectations and remember to active listen. Meaning, listen to understand NOT to respond. It's vital that your child feels heard and understood.

  • Brainstorm some of the emotions you both predict might crop up when under pressure. Discuss possible scenarios and how you would both like to approach them.

  • Plan the rules during exams. MOST IMPORTANT, allow your child to participate in setting the rules - after all, he/she is the one most affected. Be warned that if you are going to lay down the law this exam season WITHOUT involving your child in the process, your child might become defensive and resistant.

"When people actively participate in setting a rule or making a decision that will affect them, they are more highly motivated to comply with it. We call this the Principle of Participation, and it has proven its effectiveness in numerous research studies." - Dr Thomas Gordon

  • Avoid giving solutions. As parents, we love being the saviours of our children's problems, but a challenging period presents a child with a personal growth opportunity. By robbing them of this opportunity will only make your child more dependent on you.

Many children dread examinations; they fear that they will disappoint their parents if they do poorly or embarrass themselves in front of their peers. Therefore, it's your purpose to create a safe space of unconditional acceptance during this time. Try not to compare to other households. How people approach challenging times varies from family to family. Find a solution that works for you and your child and don't look back. Good luck!

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.

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