Older News  » Managing exam stress

Last updated 4:45 PM on 7 October 2011

Feeling anxious before exams is perfectly normal and can even help kids do better. The problems arise when the worry gets out of hand and prevents your child from studying effectively.

While you obviously can't jump in and do the work for them, parents can help their kids manage the fear and, in the process, learn valuable skills that will be crucial in later life.

Child psychologist Kimberley O'Brien says these key areas are where a little parental guidance can make all the difference:

  • Make sure your child is eating a balanced diet with regular meals.
  • Encourage enough sleep.
  • Monitor how much caffeine your child is consuming – despite being a stimulant (which keeps you awake), too much caffeine interrupts concentration and focus.
  • Getting enough exercise during the day is a challenge for hardworking kids, but they'll benefit from better concentration and they may find it easier to fall asleep when they do go to bed.
  • Schedule in a social life. Whether they do it face-to-face or on social networks like Facebook, having a set amount of time each day to share their thoughts and worries with their friends will help your child keep it all in perspective.

Kimberley says the perfect balance is for kids to feel supported and loved, while still being in charge of their study and performance. 

"It can be hard, but parents need to restrain themselves from becoming too involved, and from placing unrealistic expectations on their kids," she says.

Read the full article, including the signs to look for if you think your child is being overwhelmed by anxiety.

You'll also find videos and articles on preparing for exams, writing essays and surviving the HSC at School A to Z.