This time of year can mean different things to different people. For some students, it can be a time to prove yourself and to showcase everything you have worked hard for in the previous years. For others, it can be a time of unease in which they feel intense pressure. For parents, it can signify over-tired teens, burn out and overall tense family dynamics due to the pressure of exam season.
The saving grace - it will all soon be a distant memory for those that get to enjoy a long summer after months of hard work and effort - particularly after a tough few years of interrupted schooling intertwined with schooling from home (which we can all agree was hard on both students and parents!).
In the meantime, what can families do to help make this time feel a little easier? Here are some suggestions you might want to try:
Focus on your hierarchy of needs - Before you can do anything else on this list, the number one thing to manage stress and exam pressure is to ensure that you are sleeping properly and enough, as well as having good nutrition. Nothing else will work unless these basic needs are met. Parents, encourage your teens to focus on this first as well as modelling it to them so they understand the importance.
Plan your downtime - Make sure you give yourselves time to relax, play and enjoy life together. Set a boundary around when that time will be, with no discussions of stressful situations such as exams allowed! Just time for fun, instead. Laughter, play and joy help to regulate your nervous system and take you out of flight or fight mode so that you can feel relaxed and good.
Do everything you can to avoid overwhelm - Organise time effectively, planning when each stage of revision will take place, so that there are no nasty surprises about being adequately prepared for exams! Otherwise, this can lead to overwhelm which puts a massive stress on your nervous system making it harder to be productive and calm.
Thing about what keeps you calm - For some this can be playing a musical instrument, taking a walk, taking part in a sport or socialising with friends. Try to limit numbing activities such as watching tv or playing video games and instead think of the calming activity you do to be 'active recovery' which will allow you to process your feelings and thoughts in a healthy way, in order to cultivate calm.
Support one another - Making time to discuss things within a family is really important. This comes easier to some than others, so if you struggle with discussing feelings and emotions, perhaps plan an activity and let your parent or child know that you want to use this time to discuss whilst doing something fun/productive/silly/practical etc.