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Families hit by exam stress – how to cope

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The stress of exams can affect the whole family, according to Amanda Gordon, President of the Australian Psychological Society.

"Now formal classes have finished, it is up to the individual to work at their own pace, and many parents feel the need to supervise their child’s study closely. This can lead to many arguments over control, even in families that normally are easygoing in their relationships," says Gordon. Parents can help their children manage this difficult time in their lives by using a number of simple strategies: Remember that your child is ultimately responsible for their own behaviour at this time, and will be more likely to work effectively when they are aware that the outcome will be due to their own efforts. Assist your child with structuring their study, allowing for sensible breaks away from the books, with regular meal breaks and time for exercise. Acknowledge your child’s study efforts, even if they are doing less than you would like them to do. Encourage co-operative study with friends. Continue to put these exams into perspective for both yourself and your child – the more effort they put in now, the more likely they will be to have a wide range of options next year, but no matter what, there are a number of paths towards their ultimate career choice. Remind yourself and your child that the rewards will be for their best effort, which is much more important than a final number. "It is easy to get caught up with the hype, and aim for a number, however, our children have much greater value than any number can be, and must be reminded that their future happiness will be through relating with others and maintaining their health – let them dream of possibilities," says Gordon. "Parents must ensure that they continue to communicate with their children about things other than study, during the weeks leading up to, during, and following these end of school exams. That will assist a healthy emotional response, no matter how well or poorly their children are ultimately judged at the end of their formal secondary schooling." (Source: Australian Psychological Society: October 2004.)

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Posted On: 18 October, 2004
Modified On: 5 December, 2013

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