With only a matter of weeks to go until Leaving Cert exams start, the pressure is really starting to build in homes across the country. For parents, exam time can be as stressful as it is for the student with emotions running high and the demands of a challenging revision and exam timetable causing tempers to fray.
The pressure and stress which exams can cause should not be underestimated; but with an acknowledgement that some degree of stress is inevitable and having a plan to deal with it, things should hopefully be manageable and see your family through the exam period intact.
While a full-scale shouting match between siblings and lots of slammed doors might start the alarm bells ringing, other signs of a build-up of stress are not always so obvious. Some of the first signs may be physical; such as a susceptibility to colds, headaches or problems sleeping. Parents should be on alert for these signs as an indicator that stress levels are building.
Planning a study schedule can help to ease feelings of panic and loss of control – with a clear plan of action, the student can see light at the end of the exam tunnel. Plenty of positive reinforcement is also extremely beneficial and simple rewards or treats at regular intervals throughout the study and exam periods can help to maintain a sense of normality, achievement and well-being. For example, after a period of study/revision, maybe factor in some TV time, or some down-time with friends. Plenty of fresh air is extremely helpful to clear the head and keep physical symptoms at bay so walks or other forms of exercise should also be factored in.
Above all else, try to encourage your child to talk to you about how they are feeling. That way, you will be in the best position to help them. Oh, and keep a box of tissues and a bar of chocolate on standby – you never know when you might need them - for yourself!
Further information about exam stress and preparing for Leaving Cert can be found here and here.