At this time of year, the inevitable tests and end-of-semester exams begin to loom. With this comes a perennial challenge for parents: how to give just the right amount of support to your children and teenagers – whether they be in primary school facing their first big test or approaching their final exams.
Here are some tips for helping your son cope with test anxiety.
- Keep the ship steady
A calm environment at home – particularly in the morning before school, and in the evening – can reassure your son and help him to unwind. His energy is likely to be low, and meltdowns or tears may occur more often than usual. Listen to what he needs (which might include being left alone for a while) and try not to judge.
- Routine is king
A daily routine is really important for boys; familiarity provides comfort. This can be especially important when your son is at the mercy of deadlines that he cannot control. Your daily routine could be as simple as encouraging him to wake up at the same time every day, and to make his bed and brush his teeth before he leaves the house.
- Praise the good
It is easy at this time of year (when fatigue levels can be high for all family members) to over-react. Where possible, ignore (or forgive) your son’s questionable behaviour, and praise the good instead.
- Use the best fuel
When we’re stressed, we tend to reach for comfort foods that are often high in sugar or fat. Try to help your son avoid this trap. For example, suggest a Vegemite sandwich for supper instead of opening a packet of lollies. And try to role-model good eating behaviours yourself!
Finally, sleep is one of the key factors to any child’s sense of wellbeing. Many boys, particularly teenagers, may not be getting enough sleep. A good sleep regime (such as engaging in a relaxing activity before bed) can go a long way to ensuring your son feels good in the morning and able to cope with the pressures of tests at school.
By providing the right emotional and social support for our boys, we can help them navigate their way through testing periods while also building great habits that will help them in the future.
Read further on how to deal with stress here.
Meg Adem is a science and psychology teacher, writer and athletics coach at Brighton Grammar, an all-boys school in Melbourne. This article is about Parenting
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