As parents, watching our children navigate the often-stressful exam season can feel like a roller-coaster ride. Balancing the fine line between encouraging their potential and managing their stress levels can seem challenging.

By creating a calm and supportive home for your child during exam periods, you’ll be helping them put their best foot forward for each exam!

Here’s how to help your teenager with exam stress:


The first step to supporting your child during exam season is to understand the stress they might be undergoing.


  • Worry a lot
  • Feel tense
  • Have headaches and stomach pains
  • Not sleep well
  • Be irritable
  • Lose interest in food or eat more than normal
  • Not enjoy activities they previously enjoyed
  • Be negative and have a low mood
  • Feel hopeless about the future


As parents, we are responsible for recognising these signs of excessive stress. Regular, non-judgemental communication can help your child express their fears, fostering a sense of emotional safety and trust.


An environment conducive to learning is critical during the exam season. Ensure your child has a quiet, designated study area with minimal distractions.35 Regular breaks are equally essential34 to maintain mental freshness, so encourage your child to take short breaks for activities they enjoy.

Additionally, maintain a positive, encouraging atmosphere at home. Recognise their hard work and progress, focusing more on their efforts than the outcomes.35 This reinforcement will foster a growth mindset, promoting resilience and self-efficacy.



Physical health and mental well-being are closely connected. Encourage your child to maintain a balanced diet,31 adequate hydration,30 regular physical activity,31 and sufficient sleep.31

EXERCISE: Exercise can help boost energy levels, clear the mind, and relieve stress.31 Encourage your teen to move their bodies during their study breaks with activities like walking, running, soccer or dancing. When done daily, these small but mighty exercises will help them be more productive when they return to studying.31 , 35


ADEQUATE SLEEP: We all know that good sleep improves thinking and concentration.31 But for your teen studying long hours and having early days, a regular sleep routine is vital to help them function to the best of their abilities during exam season.

  • Encourage your child to stick to their study timetable and go to bed at the same time every evening.35
  • Teenagers should get 8-10 hours of sleep every night to help them function to the best of their abilities.35
  • Another tip is to allow 30 minutes or so for your child to wind down between studying, watching TV or using a computer and going to bed. This can help calm them down and get a good night’s rest, leaving them feeling prepared and rejuvenated.31


If your teen is finding it hard to switch off at night, encourage them to try the following before getting into bed35:

  1. Minimise screen time
  2. Drink herbal tea such as camomile or valerian root
  3. Read or listen to calming music
  4. Do some light yoga or stretching
  5. Ensure the bedroom is at a comfortable temperature

HEALTHY DIET: This might seem obvious for parents during exams, but with your teen’s busy and stressful schedule, this is often not a priority for them.

Avoid offering them comfort foods high in fat, sugar, or caffeine. These tasty treats, although comforting, can sometimes cause hyperactivity, irritability, and moodiness,31 which negatively impacts their study process.

Instead, remind your teen that eating healthy foods will help them feel more energised and focused.35 Prepare nutritious meals and study snacks for your teen with a balance of protein, antioxidants, omega-3 and dairy. Store these in the fridge so they’re ready for whenever they take a study break.35

These habits are pivotal in boosting their cognitive functioning, mood, and overall health.



While offering emotional support is crucial, academic support can also be beneficial.

  • Assist your child in creating a realistic study schedule, factoring in time for relaxation and sleep.36
  • Encourage them to break down complex subjects into realistic and achievable goals to avoid being overwhelmed.36
  • Help them study by quizzing them or reviewing their notes.31
  • Consider using online resources if they need extra assistance.36
  • Motivate your child by encouraging them to think about their goals in life and unpack how their studies are related to them.31


Lastly, managing your expectations and your child’s is essential. Emphasise the importance of doing their best rather than aiming for perfection.35 Exams measure a specific set of skills at a specific time and do not define your child’s worth or future success. Communicate this effectively to alleviate the pressure they might be feeling.

2023083010308969. OCTOBER 2023.