Exam season is around the corner and lots of teenagers and parents alike are dreading it! Exams come with many feelings, including stress but also, hopefulness for one's future. During this time, it’s vital that we support our children to strive forward and put their best selves forward. In this article, we will be looking at how to deal with stress in teenagers, including tips such as keeping a routine, ensuring they are getting an adequate diet and how to communicate with them effectively.
Keep To a Routine
With GCSEs upon us, the exam season can really make us throw our normal routine out of the window. But, this is the exact time that you need to put a more strict routine in place. The toll that exams can take on our teenagers is massive, which means they could suffer from mood swings and even exhibit signs of depression. It’s vital that we support them in every way we can.
Our normal routine might go something like this: come home after school/work, fix a quick snack, settle down to complete homework, make dinner, wash up, do a quick bit of cleaning, put the children to bed, and repeat. However, when it comes to exam time, you may want to find some extra time to sit back and talk to your children going through their exams. As parents of teenagers, it can sometimes be hard to get them to open up and talk to us, but carving out some specific time in which they can directly communicate with you, without any other distractions is vital at this time and should definitely be part of your after school routine.
Not to mention - sticking to a good bedtime routine as well! Sleep is of the utmost importance during exam sessions. You don’t want them revising late into the night or staying up too late worrying about the next day. Ensuring that you create a calm and relaxing environment for them before bed will properly prepare them for their upcoming exams.
Hearty Meals Equal Healthy Brain
Food is converted into our bodies and used as energy for our brain, so around exam season ensuring that your children are eating three regular meals a day (and snacks too)is a must!
Too much sugar around this time can result in a lack of attention, however, the occasional sweet treat could actually be beneficial. Did you know that we can train our brains to see sweet foods as a reward? This is called a Mesolimbic Dopamine System, which is where the brain will release dopamine (the happy chemical) every time it eats a sweet food. So, why not try revising with your teenager and rewarding their every correct answer with something yummy - it could work wonders for their remembering process.
But aside from the occasional sugary snack, it’s important that you plan out meals that will keep their brains active. We recommend setting out a meal plan for their exam weeks. This also sets a good routine and takes one thing off your teenagers’ plate (pun intended!) when it comes to worrying about the next day.
The Art Of Communication
Finally, step up the amount you are communicating. Stress can affect people in many different ways. Some people get angry and frustrated. Others get erratic and overcompensate. Whereas some people may completely go in on themselves and shut down. When this happens, it can feel isolating for the teenager in question, but also for the parent. We all want to help our children, but sometimes it can be hard to understand how to. That’s where talking comes in!
Remember to communicate with your child a lot more around this time. Talk about the exams, how to manage feelings of stress, and how to fully relax after a long day. Sometimes it’s not what you do, but how you say it!