School exam stress busters

Girl studying in kitchen.

At a glance

  • Encourage your child to maintain positive relationships with family and friends during exams.
  • Plenty of sleep, exercise and healthy eating help a lot.
  • Signs of too much stress include irritability, intolerance of others, angry outbursts and tears.
  • Teachers and school counsellor are available to provide advice in the lead up to exams.
  • Signs of depression or anxiety should not be ignored.

The mere thought of an exam can make kids nervous. Help create the right study conditions for your child in the lead up to exams and know the warning signs if it's all getting too much.

Kids who manage best in exams

  • maintain positive relationships with family and friends
  • continue to allow some time for exercise and leisure
  • get plenty of sleep
  • eat sensibly
  • have planned time for study
  • are organised
  • learn and practise simple techniques for relaxation (see the school counsellor for ideas).

When there is too much stress

If your child's stress level is too high, try to identify the cause by talking with them and take steps to address it. The signs you should be looking out for include:

  • irritability
  • tiredness
  • poor concentration
  • poor short-term memory
  • recurring worrying thoughts
  • lack of tolerance for others
  • anxiety about little things
  • listlessness
  • tendency toward bursts of anger and tears
  • indications of feeling 'down', alone or misunderstood
  • disturbed sleep
  • indigestion, poor appetite.

No one sign is necessarily cause for worry - take into account what else is going on in your child's life at the time. But it's better to seek help than to struggle with worries by yourself. You shouldn't ignore signs of depression or anxiety.

Get help from school counsellors, family doctors or others sooner rather than later.

Teachers, year advisers and head teachers are available during the lead up to exams and can offer specific advice to individual kids about their exam preparation. The HSC advice line operates each year before and during exam time, and kids are given the number in plenty of time to make use of it.


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