Helping your child manage study stress

As students come into the second half of the school year, many parents will be wondering how they can help their Year 12 child deal with the stress and pressures of their final few months at school. A moderate amount of stress can motivate your child and help them to work towards their goals, but excess pressure to perform can have a negative effect on their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Here's what you need to know.

Study stress is normal

You just need to be mindful of how much stress your child is under. Some students thrive when faced with a bit of pressure, but others are unable to perform if they are under too much stress. Your child will need to find the right balance and look for ways to cope. They can become stressed for a range of reasons, usually towards the end of each term and around the exam period.It could be that they feel overwhelmed by their workload or the volume of content they need to revise for exams. Stress can also become an issue if they are struggling to grasp a concept in one of their subjects and feel that this is putting them behind their classmates. A further worry is the idea of finishing school thinking about career choices and university preferences can put them under significant pressure.

It's important to provide a support system at home

Show your child that you are there for them and understand the pressures they are facing. True as it may be, your child probably won't appreciate hearing that there's no need to stress or that their results won't matter down the track. Instead, you can reassure your child that they'll get through the year and that you will be proud of them no matter how they do. If they are worried about getting into uni, put them at ease by helping them to investigate alternative pathways in case they are not able to get into their first preference.

You can also think about how you can alleviate your child's stress levels and plan activities that will help them take their mind off their studies for a little while. You might encourage them to get out of the house to see friends or do some light exercise to clear their mind. You can avoid adding to their stress levels by providing a quiet place to study and excusing them from things like doing chores or attending family gatherings during busy periods. You can also chat to them and see if there is anything else going on that has them stressed or worried. If they have a part-time job or extensive after-school commitments, you may suggest that they take some time off.

Your child can access support services at school

Your child may be reluctant to ask for help at school, but they should know that support is available. First, they can chat to their subject teachers and year-level coordinator about their concerns (a dedicated school counsellor may also be available). Teachers and support staff are well accustomed to dealing with high stress levels among senior students and will know how to help your child. If your child is stressed or unsure about their post-school options, the school career adviser is the person to visit. They will help your child work out what they would like to do once they finish school and the best way to get there.

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