Top Ten tips to keeping your children calm when taking exams

Get plenty of sleep

Make sure your children are getting quality sleep. Computer consoles and TV’s are great distractions make sure they are taken out of the room at bedtime or make sure there turned off an hour before bed to allow the mind to unwind. 

As a guidance, 7- 12 year old needs 10-12 hours a day and 15-16 year olds need 8-9 hours.  

If your child is having trouble sleeping try some relaxation exercises such as this: Imagine your favourite relaxing colour. As you take in a breath imagine taking in the colour with each breath and sending it throughout their body. As you breathe out imagine the colour filling the room. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times. A soothing sound, a special aroma or the feeling of warmth or light can be used in place of the colour.

Eat properly

To get your child’s brain working at an optimum level.  

Make sure your children are getting a balanced diet try eating a selection of the following foods to help boost the brain:

Fresh Fruit: especially Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Tomatoes and Avocados.


Broccoli, Spinach and Aubergine


Nuts are great mood enhancers. Especially Walnuts which are made up of Omega 6, and Omega 3 fatty acids, Cashews, Almonds and Pecans.


Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds help boost mood and brain power.

Foods containing Choline

Choline which helps boost the memory centre of the brain. Choline increases the production on blood cells, which in turn increases cognitive functions and memory. Soymilk, tufu, quinoa and broccoli are particularly rich sources.

Wholegrain Foods

Wholegrain foods are rich in vitamin B6 and have a high percentage of folate which is a great brain stimulator. Eat wholegrain foods such as cereals, bread and food containing barley.

Calcium Rich foods

Calcium rich food such as Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, figs, tahini, sesame seeds, chia seeds and almonds improve nerve function. Yoghurts contain an amino acid which helps improve alertness and memory

3)Get some exercise

Exercise is a great stress buster as it releases endorphins which are the feel good hormones and it also helps improve mental alertness. Get your child to get involved in a sports activity they enjoy, go swimming together, or even go for a walk together.


How does relaxation help stress?

Relaxation slows down the heart rate, which reduces blood pressure and slows the rate of breathing which reduces the need for oxygen. Relaxation increases blood flow to the muscles and decreases muscle tension. As a result of relaxation, many people experience, more energy, better concentration, greater efficiency and less anxiety and frustration.

Here’s one for you and your child to try: 

Lie down take a deep breath. Scrunch up your foot and then relax it. Tense you calf muscle up then relax it, Tense your thigh then relax it. Tense your buttocks and relax. Tense your Stomach then relax. Take a deep breath hold it for a few seconds then relax and resume normal breathing. Tense your shoulders then relax. Tense your neck then relax. Repeat the exercise starting from the neck downwards.

5)Time off

Factor in time off into the revision timetable. Fun activities are needed as well as revision.

6)Stay positive

Write 5 things you are proud about your child and share them with your child. Get them to write 5 things they are proud of and share them with you.


7) Take a break

Make sure your child takes regular breaks during the day from revision. Regular breaks help lower stress levels maintain focus and increase your concentration and memory.

8)Future rehearse the exam

If you mentally rehearse a situation before you experience it, you can

Rehearse how you react to a situation.

Ask your child to imagine they are looking at themselves through a window taking an exam, they are answering the questions with ease and they are calm and relaxed. Ask them to notice their posture, their breathing, what they are saying to themselves? What are they experiencing around them?    

Let them stand in the moment and when they ready ask them to sing Happy Birthday backwards. Ask them what they learnt from this exercise  


 9)Deep Breathing

Deeper breathing allows more oxygen to get around the body and therefore gives the brain more power. Try this exercise: Lie down or sit up if preferred.

Close your eyes, Place your hands on your lower abdomen. As you take in a deep breath in through your mouth, feel your lower abdomen rise, as your lungs begin to expand with air, exhale through your nose.

To make deep breathing really effective you must breathe from the bottom of the abdomen.


Laughter on a regular basis releases endorphins and enkephalins  which boosts feel good moods. It also can combat infections caused by stress.

Think of something funny, watch your favourite cartoon or funny film, have a good laugh with your friends.

Click here to read more articles about building your child’s confidence about taking exams.

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