Can your child counter the panic attacks as PSLE draws nearer? In the last of two parts of the PSLE series, find out how you can help your child counter the pre-PSLE stress.
Your child has planned his revision and has successfully put his timetable to action. Yet, he feels the occasional anxiety, which increases as the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) draws near. Your child needs to be calm and keep a clear head not just during the exams but also as he does his revision.
Here are five ways you can help reduce exam anxiety in your kids:
Ensure they take breaks
The last thing you want is for your children to be exhausted and burnt out just before the exams. Not surprisingly, research suggests that when studying for a final examination, it is best to impose brief breaks on your children as it would help them stay focused when studying later.
The best way to take a break is to engage in a sport or exercise. Vigorous physical movements pump up endorphins, the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, and helps them forget stress while their focus shifts to the body movements required by physical activity. Just jogging around the neighbourhood, swimming a few laps, or a game of soccer can help beat stress and boost their energy levels.
You can also let them watch their favourite TV programme or even take them out for a movie on some days. It would be a much-needed treat for their hard work and a welcome breather, especially if your children adamantly refuse to peel themselves away from work.
It is advisable to also encourage your kids to take shorter breaks in between blocks of study time, typically ten minutes, for them to have a quick, healthy snack or have a chat with a friend or sibling.
Feed them well
During times of high stress, a balanced, nutritious diet becomes even more important. This not only means that it is better for your children to eat wholegrain foods such as wholemeal bread and brown rice, as well as nutrient-rich foods like a variety of vegetables and fish, but also that they should avoid high-fat, high sugar, and high-caffeine food and drinks which do nothing to beat stress and instead can make them irritable, moody, and less focused.
Although an occasional candy or chocolate bar would not hurt, it is important to prevent overindulgence. Keep temptation away by clearing your kitchen of all junk food and soda.
Give them their beauty sleep
Never underestimate the importance of a good night’s rest. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) in the United States, school-going children ideally need ten hours of sleep for their brain to function well and to be emotionally healthy.
Strongly discourage them from burning the midnight oil, especially if they have an early start to school the next day. Those extra hours of revision in the night to prepare for PSLE may well backfire.
Teach them to visualise
Visualisation is one of the techniques known to be successful in reducing stress and enabling relaxation.
This is what you can get your children to do when they feel stressed days before the examination. Tell them to imagine sitting in the exam hall, feeling completely relaxed and well-prepared. Get them to imagine that they are able to answer the questions. Let them imagine as well how it would like if they encounter a difficult question, and how they would use what they learned from their revision to guide them towards the best possible answer. Lastly, let them imagine reviewing their answers and handing in their exam sheet to the examiner with a smile on their face, confident that they did well. This kind of visualisation activity can dispel fear of failure and performance-crippling anxiety, and give them the confidence to do well.
Show them you care but are cool with whatever happens
Thinking of parents’ high expectations only aggravates any stress children may have. But being blasé about the exam isn’t the way to go, either. How do you show your kids that you care how stressful a time this is for them but at the same time make them understand that you trust they’ll do their best?
Take time to have casual conversations with your kids especially about non-academic topics, such as the latest football scores or about an incident reported in the newspapers or even about the aunt who just gave birth. If they want to talk about how they feel about the exams, be a listening ear and play the role of a good counsellor.
At the same time, show that you care about their well-being. It would be nice to make them hot coco or an ice-cold refreshing smoothie while they are revising. If time permits, you could also occasionally prepare their favourite dishes for dinner.
Work together with your children to help them conquer panic attacks and overcome stress. Also remind them that the most important thing is to do their best, and nothing else matters more than that. They’ll feel your support, and they’ll be grateful for it―even if they don’t show it.
What other tips do you have to help children beat the PSLE stress? Share your tips with us in the comments section!