Skip to main content

Supporting someone through exams

Tests and exams can be a challenging part of school life for both children and parents. But there are ways to ease the stress.

Children who experience stress may be irritable and not sleep well. They may lose interest in food, worry a lot, and appear depressed or negative. Headaches and stomach pains can also be stress-related.

Having someone to talk to about their work can help. Support from a parent, tutor or a study-group friend can help children share their worries. It's important to keep things in perspective.

If you feel your child isn't coping, talk to their teachers at school.

Make sure your child eats well

A balanced diet is vital for your child's health and can help them to feel well during exam periods.

High-fat, high-sugar and high-caffeine foods and drinks can make your child hyperactive. They may also be responsible for making them irritable and moody.

Help your child get enough sleep

Good sleep will improve thinking and concentration. Most teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours' sleep a night.

Allow half an hour or so for kids to wind down between studying, watching TV or using a computer and going to bed. This will help them get a good night's sleep.

Cramming all night before an exam is usually a bad idea. Sleep will benefit your child far more than a few hours of anxious last-minute study.

Be flexible during exams

Parents need to be flexible around exam time. When your child is revising all day, don't worry about untidy bedrooms. You shouldn't be hard on them for household jobs that aren't done.

Staying calm yourself can help. Remember, exams don't last forever.

Help them to study

Help your child revise by making sure they have somewhere comfortable to study. Help them draw up a revision schedule or ask the school for one.

Talk about exam nerves

Remind your child that feeling anxious is normal. Nervousness is a natural reaction to exams.

The key is to put these nerves to positive use. Being reminded of what they do know and the time they have put into study can help them feel confident.

Encourage exercise during exams

Make sure your kids are active. Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind and relieve stress. Walking, cycling, swimming, football and dancing are all effective.

Read more about the benefits of physical activity.

Don't add to the pressure

Many children feel that the greatest pressure at exam time comes from their family.

Parents should keep things in perspective. Listen to your child, give support and avoid criticism.

Before they go in for a test or exam, be reassuring and positive. Make sure they know that failing isn't the end of the world. Remind them that if things don't go well they may be able to take the exam again.

After each exam, encourage your child to talk it through with you. Then move on and focus on the next test. Don't spend time talking about things that they can't change.

Related topics

Being a good listener

Make time for treats

When the exams are over, help your child celebrate by organising an end-of-exams treat.

Don't use rewards as bribes. Instead, encourage your child to work for their own satisfaction.

Related topics

Managing exam stress

Page last reviewed: 30/09/2018
Next review due: 30/09/2021

Do you need to talk to someone right now?

Free call Samaritans 116 123

GET URGENT HELP