1. Make self-care a priority
It’s perfectly normal for parents to become anxious in the lead-up to their child’s exams especially if it’s the first time a major exam has happened in the household. “The best way you can help your child is to sleep, eat well, exercise and watch caffeine levels, and better control of negative emotions and stress will follow,” says Esther. She adds that parenting is one area where it is easy to feel out of control, so she advises those with PSLE-sitting children to stay in control of their own bodies and minds.
2. Put aside some technology-free time
Esther warns that if parents are feeling anxious, it may be time to put away the tech. “If technology is ruling your life, experiment with down times for emails, texts and social media platforms.” Why not try colouring instead? Colouring is no longer exclusively for children, with many adults now embracing this activity to alleviate stress. “It brings about a relaxed state because it promotes focused attention or mindfulness,” says Leanne Hall, an integrative clinical psychologist.
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3. Dance like nobody's watching
Music and dance are renowned for being excellent mood boosters. Leanne says, “letting our hair down relieves stress and tension and decreases cortisol, making way for those feel-good hormones.” If you are feeling a bit low, choose uplifting music, grab your kid and dance your stress away for 10 to 15 minutes. It’ll give both of you a laugh, strengthen your parent-child bond and give your body a cardio workout too.
4. Exercise your worries away
Exercise helps to create calm, and low-impact exercises are particularly beneficial because they don’t overstress the body. “When we exercise our body releases chemicals like serotonin and dopamine,” says Hall. “Not only do these neurotransmitters boost our mood and make us feel good but they counter the effects of cortisol, the stress hormone.”
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5. Get back to nature
Whilst it is important to be supportive and present for your child
during this time, experience suggests that some ‘time out’ for parents is as important as it is for students. Esther recommends “prioritising weekly family time and one-on-one time outside of homework, tuition, revision and mock exam papers.” Why not take a leisurely walk around your neighbourhood park in the evenings? Evidence has long suggested that being in nature is the perfect way to find calm.
6. Maintain a normal household
Exams can bring stress that can have a ripple effect on
everyone in the house. Just being practical and keeping noise and distractions to a minimum during study time is very useful. Keeping regular sleep patterns is essential during this period. Maintaining regular meal times is equally as important. By running the household like you normally would, it lets your child know you are there for them unconditionally, no matter how overwhelmed you feel.
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7. Feed the mind
Have plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge fruit! Make sure everyone in the house starts the day on a good breakfast. Ideal foods include a slow releasing energy cereal e.g. brown bread with an egg. Minimise high sugar snacks (chocolate, fizzy drinks) and have plenty of healthy alternatives so no one in the house, including you, is left craving for empty calories. Taking care of your diet and those of your loved ones is the surest way everyone will be happy, healthy and calm at home.
8. Celebrate the little successes
Remember exams are not the “Be All & End All”. Your child is not defined by these results and neither are you. It doesn’t reflect badly on you at all if your child doesn’t perform during the PSLE. “Be realistic. Rather than measuring you child’s progress based on an overall score, set short-term achievable and measurable goals together with your child and celebrate with your child as each goal is reached!” says Esther.
(Text by Donna Webeck, Good Health (Bauer) / Additional Reporting by Natalya Molok)