Ask any NSW senior school student and they will tell you that the HSC is synonymous with stress. With increased workloads, pressure from themselves and others, and fear of the future implications of exam results, it’s clear why.
Having said that, stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate your son and sharpen his mind and reflexes. But how do you make sure the stress doesn’t become too much?
Here’s how to identify and overcome HSC stress.
Identifying signs of HSC stress
It’s vital to spot the signs early to better support your son in managing his stress levels. If he gets to the stage where he can no longer cope, he may experience symptoms of anxiety or depression.
Stress from the HSC can manifest in several ways. Look for physical, behavioural and emotional cues such as:
- irregular sleeping patterns
- skipping meals
- deterioration in school performance
- weight gain or loss
- withdrawn behaviour
- frequent lying and signs of dishonesty
- increased restlessness and irritability.
There are many more possible symptoms and it’s important to be aware of them as a parent so you can identify them in your son. Once identified, here’s how to help him overcome HSC stress.
Introduce a schedule
A regular routine of study, exercise, relaxation, meals and sleep will ensure that your son does not neglect his mental and physical health. This allows him time to switch off, then switch back on when needed. Exam stress often results from a lack of preparation, disorganisation and poor time management. A regular timetable safeguards against these.
Don’t add to the pressure
All parents want their children to succeed but there are ways to motivate them without adding undue pressure. Rather than nag your son to complete his work, consider implementing a reward system for when he performs well.
Be a good role model
Although your son is almost an adult by the time he reaches the HSC, you, as a parent, will still be one of his biggest influences. Be aware of how you handle stress, and aim to model good coping strategies. Your son will be better at managing his own stress levels if he has a good role model to observe at home.
Let him know that he has support
Schools know that the HSC is a stressful period. There are people who can sit down with you and your son to help – a school counsellor, tertiary and careers advisor, tutors, housemasters, sports coaches and more. These staff members are qualified and have helped a plethora of students through the stressful exam period.
Above all, let your son know that, whilst the HSC is important, it’s important that he maintains a balanced perspective. The ability to step back from the situation and keep a level head is key to managing HSC stress.
Identifying and beating HSC stress can be difficult, but both you and your son will be glad you did. For more expert advice, such as HSC exam tips, stress and time management and general tips for parents, download The HSC Survival Guide.