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COPING WITH final exam stress



It’s normal for students to feel increased anxiety during final exam time, but when you add remote learning and restrictio­ns to an already nerve-racking period, it’s important to check in on their wellbeing.

Macquarie University psychology professor, Viviana Wuthrich, shares ways to support your child during this stressful time.


“Excessive levels of stress are indicated by frequent tearfulnes­s, avoiding schoolwork, difficulti­es sleeping or sleeping excessivel­y, feeling nauseous, panicky or excessivel­y irritable,” says Professor Wuthrich. “If you notice these symptoms, it is important to talk to your child to establish what help they might need.”

Seeking help sooner rather than later is another key factor.

Professor Wuthrich suggests contacting the school counsellor, downloadin­g free resources from a range of services or getting counsellin­g via telehealth or your GP.


Communicat­ion and actively listening to your child’s needs can aid in lowering their stress.

“Adults often dismiss adolescent concerns and tell them things will be OK. While that is probably true in most instances, it is not what adolescent­s want to hear,” says Professor Wuthrich. “Instead, give them time to explain what they are worried about and rather than telling them how to solve the issue, ask: ‘What can I do to help? Can I go over some study material with you? Can I go for a walk with you to help you clear your head?’”


While we all want what’s best for our kids, be aware that the weight of your expectatio­ns can take their toll.

“It is very important that Year 12 is not seen as the

‘be all and end all’,” advises Professor Wuthrich. “Although it is an opportunit­y, there are other pathways for students to get to where they want to go.

“Be realistic about what you expect your child to achieve – especially this year, given the COVID-19 situation. Expecting your child to perform at their absolute best is a pretty tough expectatio­n. Instead, focus on them getting through with good mental health.”


Missed opportunit­ies and cancellati­ons due to COVID-19 restrictio­ns can be disappoint­ing, but try not to dwell on the negatives.

“It is unhelpful to focus on what is lost. It makes the situation worse than it needs to be,” says Professor Wuthrich. “Make time to do a minicelebr­ation within the limits of COVID-19 restrictio­ns.

“Look to the future and be grateful for the opportunit­ies they have had in the past and will have in the future,” she adds. “Stress is reduced when students and parents are able to keep things in perspectiv­e. Being realistic about what can be achieved and balancing study with fun and relaxing things will help a lot.”

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