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How to help your child cope with examination stress

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Exam stress is a real problem which plagues many Singaporean children.  Studies have shown that children were more anxious about exams compared to COVID-19.  7 out of 10 felt negative about upcoming exams and more than 6 out of 10 felt worried (Ang, 2020).  Anger, sleeping problems, chest pain or tightness, being irritable, teeth grinding, and thinking negatively about the future are some signs of stress in your child (Kidshelpline, 2018).

Here are some steps that you as a parent can take to better support your child during such tough times:

1. Start scheduling and structuring your child’s time before exams.

By planning early into the year, your child will realise that he has time to study and revise for his exams.  This helps to relieve anxiety and increase confidence.  Set aside a reasonable time for your child to study every day.  Every child has a different attention span.  Depending on the task, set aside an hour for each subject and have breaks in between each hour of studying.

2. Teach your child the importance of having breaks.

Breaks help to improve one’s mood, motivation, and productivity (Terada, 2018).

3. Provide a quiet space for your child to study.

Providing a quiet space helps to minimise any distractions around your child.  For example, do homework at a desk in a quiet room without devices such as the TV or their handphone.

4. Be positive, have realistic expectations and do not push your child too much.

Let your child know that the most important part of studying is learning and challenging oneself.  Let him know that you are happy if he tries his best.  Psychologist, Carol Balhetchet, encourages parents to stay as calm as possible during exam periods as children absorb their parents’ stress easily.

5. Encourage good sleeping and eating patterns.

Encourage your child to sleep for at least 6 to 8 hours a day.  This helps to increase concentration.  Consuming lots of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables or any other low- fat, low-sugar and low-caffeine foods can help to increase memory power too.

6. Encourage your child to ask the teacher questions.

Affirm your child that it is ok to ask questions and make mistakes.  With extra guidance from the teacher, your child can learn from their mistakes.

7. Offer a listening ear.

By listening, you make your child feel heard and supported.  After their exams, listen to your child’s concerns first.  Whether or not your child feels like he or she has done well, encourage your child to move on and look ahead to the next exam.

Written by: Maxine Goh


Ang, J. (2020, September 18). Children in Singapore more anxious about exams than Covid-19: Survey. Retrieved from The Straits Times: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/children-more-anxious-about-exams-than-covid-19-in-singapore-survey

kidshelpline. (2018, February 14). Helping kids cope with exam stress. Retrieved from kidshelpline: https://kidshelpline.com.au/parents/issues/helping-kids-cope-exam-stress-0

Singh, N. (n.d.). 10 Tips for parents to reduce exam stress for kids. Retrieved from buzzingbubs: https://buzzingbubs.com/articles/parenting-help-tips-stress-exam-students

Terada, Y. (2018, March 9). Research-Tested Benefits of Breaks. Retrieved from edutopia: https://www.edutopia.org/article/research-tested-benefits-breaks

Young Parents. (2019, September 26). 6 ways to help your kid beat exam stress in Singapore. Retrieved from asiaone: https://www.asiaone.com/lifestyle/6-ways-help-your-kid-beat-exam-stress-singapore