Leaving and Junior Cert countdown

If you have a son or daughter on the run-up to the Leaving or Junior Cert this June, the whole household plays a role.

Youth Mental Health Ireland Exam StressIt can be a stressful time for everyone. There are ways to support the person in your family who is heading to toward their exams, by helping them get prepared and do the actual exams.

1. Emphasise downtime

Make sure they take regular breaks. That is, if they are in fact really hitting the books.

Breaks are important, for wellbeing as well as allowing them to process all the information they’re taking in.

2. Avoid threats

Be careful not to add to the stress students are already under by laying out the worst case scenario if they don’t do well.

3. Making a meal of it

Meals at regular times means they can be scheduled into their study timetable. If they manage to get into a bit of flow, they may want to eat at their desk, which can be OK from time-to-time. But, for the most part dinner together can also provide a much needed break for the student.

It can be a sacrifice for all the family, but try not to have junk food around the house, for the next two months anyway.

>>Read eating well for more.

4. Quality sleep is crucial

This cannot be underestimated. Sleep is necessary to refresh and restore the body and mind. The actual exams are a while away, so they need to not burn out in the lead-up or during the exams.

Regular exercise and daylight need to be worked into the study routine. Limit screen time before bed and encourage a good night’s sleep each night.

5. Watch for stress overload

If you can see they’re struggling, explore what’s going on for them together. Try to work out some solutions with each other, but let them air what’s going on first.

>>Read stress for more.

6. Manage your experience of school

Try not to project negative feelings you have about exams or school. It can be an easy thing to slip into, when you’re trying to show you understand the stress they might be experiencing.

Equally, if it was all easy for you and you were a top student, maybe now is not the time to share. Unless you can offer practical help, but ask first! Make sure to see if help is wanted before offering ‘helpful suggestions’.

7. More than the results

Self-compassion and good self-esteem will help young people know and realise they are more than their exam results if things don’t go well during the Leaving and Junior Cert exams.

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