South African grade 12 learners commenced their final-year exams on Thursday, 5 November – and with a global pandemic still plaguing our country, pupils' anxiety levels are expected to be much higher than they would be under normal circumstances.
Speaking to TRUELOVE, clinical psychologist, Dr. Cino Shearer says that anxiety is caused by a build up of life stresses and worry.
“For Grade 12 learners, being anxious is caused by the amount of pressure they put upon themselves to achieve a pass mark or even more, and pressure from their parents and peers to fulfil their personal goals,” Dr Shearer says.
“They worry about how well they going to do, and sometimes they haven't even prepared for the exams. It could also be due to the fact that they don't understand the work they have done for the entire year. Another reason could also be because of the pressure others put on them. Most often Parents put tremendous pressure upon students to choose a career that is suitable for their parents."
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Although it is almost impossible for matriculants not to have anxiety for their exams, there are ways that parents could help ease it.
Here 5 tips that Dr. Shearer recommends for parents who want to ease their children’s matric exam anxiety - in his own words.
Lay off the pressure
We often find an increase in suicide rates at this time of the year, so parents should try their best to not compare their kids to other kids and impose those expectations on them.
Keep the lines of communication open
Have daily sessions with your child to understand where they are mentally, psychologically and emotionally. Allow them an audience with you to debrief and be sounding board for them to express frustration, excitement, anxiety, relief, joy and so on.
Parents can do this by assisting their child with study schedules and lessening the load when it comes to chores at home. Early preparation is also important, so parents need to familiarise themselves with the child's exam timetable to ensure that by the time exams come, they have put in sufficient time and effort in making sure that they are prepared.
Make sure physical exercise is taking place
Exercise helps to stimulate the mind and allows the brain to better absorb information - so parents should encourage their children to exercise. This could include taking walks, skipping, doing a 5-minute cardio or strength session - it can be anything, as long as the child is and remains active.
Make sure they're eating well and getting enough sleep
A good diet and getting enough sleep improves brain function and increases one's tolerance for stress. Students should be mentally and psychologically equipped. Cross-nighting should be avoided as it causes awkward sleeping patterns, affects the diet and can cause stress. Trying to write an exam when tired is not advisable.