Ways Parents Can Best Support Their Teen During Exams and Finals Time

Many parents hear these three dreadful words expressed from their child or teen’s mouth, “I hate school!” Of course, school can already feel tough with the day-to-day academic and social pressures.  But then, for an already struggling teen to add yearly finals, AP exams, and maybe even a weekly quiz or two is something that, at times, can feel too overwhelming. When your teen feels overwhelmed by the pressure to achieve, they may become avoidant, unmotivated, or overly anxious.  To help your teen feel more prepared, confident, and less stressed when preparing for and taking a test, here are some important tips:

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Teens often procrastinate and rely on cram sessions or study for multiple hours, days on end. Unfortunately, neither method is a solution to obtaining the desired grade. Here are a few simple study habit tips to help teens better retain what they learn without feeling so overwhelmed:

  • Study over multiple days for big tests and final exams – When studying for an extensive exam, it’s best to break up the time studying over a course of multiple days rather than studying for a large block of time before the test. Research shows “spacing,” which means studying in smaller increments (30-60min. each day) over several days has proven to have better retention results.
  • Schedule your study – Adding a block of time for studying to your calendar can help ensure that studying is prioritized and gets done as intended, while leaving you plenty of time to enjoy friends and down time.
  • Have a study strategy – Before starting your study, map out what you will be going over each day. Try not to cram too much into one set! If you can whip through one day reasonably quickly, then great! This will give your brain a bit of a break before going to your next day’s session.
  • Go on a walk – If you start to feel anxious before you start to study or while studying, go outside and breathe! Taking a walk or jog can clear your head and relieve some unwanted stress.
  • Take “brain” breaks – If you do go beyond the desired 30-60min mark, take a break, and move around. It’s good for your mind and body.
  • Put the phone on “do not disturb.” – At school and during studying time, have the phone on “do not disturb” or not near you so that it’s not distracting or tempting to look at. If at home, put in another room during studying. If at school, put it in a bag or locker.
  • Choose a non-distracting environment to study in – Along with putting the phone away, it’s important to find a quiet place where you can avoid interruptions. If you are having problems concentrating, then move spots! Changing your location when having brain fog is sometimes precisely what is needed to revive your senses and start anew!
  • Do not study right before bedtime – It’s essential to have time to relax before bed vs. studying up until bedtime. Studying up to bedtime will leave your mind racing with thoughts and will be hard to settle down. Try to stop studying at least an hour before lights out.
  • Practice self-care – Taking care of oneself is permeant to feeling and trying your best! Of course, eating healthy and getting a good night’s sleep is crucial in achieving self-care. Finding time to relax or do something you enjoy is also important.
  • Use positive self-talk – Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Instead of saying, “I’m going to fail the test,” pump yourself up by saying, “I’ve got this.” or “I’m going to be ok.”
  • Avoid second-guessing – After taking the test, try to avoid 2nd guessing your answers and thinking about which ones you may have gotten wrong. Instead, remind yourself that you did your best.

Provide Support for Your Teen

Sometimes the best aid for a teen when studying is a relaxed environment with people around that support them and care. Your teen may be stressed, but how you respond to that stress can significantly affect the stress gauge going up or down. You can be there for them, whether it’s to help your teen study or just to be emotionally supportive, it’s important to let your child know you are there for them. Checking in with them from time to time, asking how it’s going and if they need anything is a great way to show your support.

Also, taking time together as a family to sit down and eat can be extremely beneficial. Although the craziness of the day may try and suggest otherwise, those precious minutes together are the perfect opportunity to check in with your loved ones, connect, and be together.  Showing your support will mean more to your teen than they may show, but it will not go unnoticed or unappreciated.

For more ways that you can support your teen during exams and finals time, contact info@calchildpsych.com.

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