Help your kids pass

As the year nears its end, for pupils the next couple of months will be demanding ones of hard work, studying and writing exams.

As the year nears its end, for pupils the next couple of months will be demanding ones of hard work, studying and writing exams.

Exams are stressful times for most pupils, particularly matriculants who experience extreme pressure to perform well because emphasis is placed on the fact that their future depends on their results.

It is always tragic when youngsters who find difficulty dealing with stress turn to drugs or even suicide because they see no other way out.

According to Statistics South Africa about 44 children between the ages of 12 and 18 internationally died from intentional self harm in 2005. This should encourage parents to support their children.

Just as we have different personalities, children have different learning styles and different styles of studying. What works for one might not work for another. It is useful to understand your child's studying style.

Some children do not need as much monitoring or help as others and you need to adjust their supervision accordingly.

Children should not skip meals or opt for quick or unhealthy fast foods while studying. It's also tempting to drink lots of caffeine drinks to stay awake, but this should be avoided because it enhances tension and anxiety.

Healthy eating habits are beneficial and assist children in balancing energy levels and allows them to perform at their optimal mental peak, keeping their minds active and alert.

Observe stress levels. When children show symptoms such as forgetfulness, irritability, mood swings or marked changes in their normal behaviour, then it's likely that they are stressed.

Help to reduce stress by introducing relaxation techniques. Ensure that children take regular study breaks to relax, take walks and get fresh air or do a few minutes of exercise to get their blood circulation flowing.

Although a good work ethic and putting many hours into revision and studying is necessary, too much work is not healthy. Allow children to enjoy some of their favourite activities such as listening to music or going out for a meal.

Be encouraging and positive rather than critical. Create a secure support system. Encourage children to talk about how they feel, listen calmly and don't be judgmental. Try not to belittle their feelings.

Remain patient, encouraging and positive. This will help you create a secure support system which facilitates parent-child dialogue, trust and confidence.

And, look back and remember when you were in your children's shoes. Remind yourself that it is normal to feel stressed and excited at this time. - Girls & Boys Town