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According to Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, exams and tests can be a challenging aspect of school life for children, adolescents, and their parents or guardians. However, there are techniques to alleviate stress.


It’s that time of the year again when exam stress, anxiety, and pressure can take hold of your child.


“While some believe a bit of anxiety and pressure can be beneficial around exam time, science suggests otherwise,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.


“When children are stressed, their brains release high levels of cortisol which can cloud thinking and get in the way of rational thoughts. Because of this, parents must do all they can to ensure their children stay as calm as possible during the exam period.”

Signs of stress in children, tweens, and teens

Children and adolescents who are anxious may:


  • Complain of headaches and stomach issues
  • Have insomnia or battle to fall asleep
  • Lose interest in meals or eat more than usual
  • Are pessimistic about the future
  • Are moody, tearful, or irritable
  • Withdraw from activities they once enjoyed
  • Become overly clingy

Help your child beat exam anxiety with these stress-busting tips.

If you suspect your child is experiencing exam anxiety, the following advice from Affinity Health may be of assistance.


Ensure that you eat fresh and wholesome foods


A balanced diet is vital for mental and physical health. Encourage your child to avoid high-fat, high-sugar, and high-caffeine meals and beverages, such as energy drinks, cola, sweets, chocolate, and takeaways.


Ensure your child doesn’t skip meals, leading to irritability and low energy. Keep a stock of healthy snacks available, like almonds, roasted sunflower or flax seeds, roasted fox nuts, or unsalted pistachios.


Include three to five servings of fruits and vegetables in your child’s daily diet. These will supply their body with the essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients and help them stay satiated for longer. Additionally, children must consume enough water and remain hydrated. Place a water bottle or sipper on their study desk.

Help your child get adequate sleep.

A good night’s sleep enhances cognition and concentration. Most children aged seven to 12 need between 10 and 11 hours of sleep a night, while tweens and teens need around eight to nine hours.

Let your child take regular study breaks.

Allow your child about half an hour between studying. Be adaptable regarding unfinished household chores or messy bedrooms.

Encourage exercising during tests.

Physical activity can increase energy levels, cleanse the mind, and alleviate stress. Exercise increases blood circulation and heart rate. It is a well-known stress reliever due to the endorphins (feel-good hormones) it releases in the brain. For children, walking, cycling, swimming, football, and dancing are beneficial types of exercise.

Give them a calm place to study.

Does your child have a desk or workplace in a study-friendly location of your home? Consider whether it is well-lit and free of distractions. Keep useful study items in this area, such as colourful post-it notes, a choice of pens and pencils, highlighters, and scratch paper. Let your child take ownership of the area by allowing them to decorate and organise their desk each night so they’re ready for their next study session

Teach your child about time management

Time management is a crucial component of efficient study skills. Help your child understands how to maintain a homework planner. Assist your child in preparing for important tests by breaking down the subject and creating a programme for reviewing the material in the days preceding the test.


Similarly, break down large projects by identifying smaller tasks with due dates. Due dates prevent cramming and procrastination (and boost their confidence in the process) by making their assignment seem more reasonable.

Don’t add to the pressure.

According to Childline, many children who call them report that family members exert the most pressure during exam time. Instead of adding to exam pressure, listen to your child, encourage them, and refrain from criticism. Be encouraging and reassuring before and after they take a test or exam.

Know when to get help

You should seek assistance if your child’s anxiety or depression is severe, persistent, and interferes with daily life. Visiting a general practitioner is a good starting point.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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