The HSC is an intensely stressful period in every teenager’s life that pushes them to work hard to get prepared and perform well at exam time. So how can you help your child who might be dealing with anxiety?
While feeling stressed and anxious is a common experience for many students, those suffering from particularly high levels of anxiety can feel under even more pressure. And when it comes to supporting your teen with anxiety, it can be a difficult and stressful task for everyone involved.
In this article, we’ll cover some tips on how you, as a parent, can help your teen get through the HSC, manage anxiety, and succeed.
Let’s get started!
What signs should I look out for?
Whether you’re worried about an upcoming exam, job interview or other major event, you’ll find that most people feel anxious when facing a stressful situation. In some cases, this anxiousness can actually be beneficial by making us feel more alert and motivated.
But, feeling anxious or overwhelmed frequently can make performing daily activities — such as going to school, studying, or hanging out with friends — more difficult and prevent your teen from reaching their full potential. If your teen is suffering from anxiety, there are a few signs that you can look out for too:
Just like the butterflies you might get before talking in front of a crowd, anxiety can cause your teen to feel an array of physical symptoms. These can include feeling sick in the stomach, dizziness, feeling tense or aches in the neck, shoulders, or back, and regular teeth grinding (or bruxism).
Nobody likes to feel stressed or anxious, and teenagers are no exception. If your child has anxiety, you might notice that their behaviour will change to feel less anxious, including:
- Spending less time with friends, in social settings or other anxiety-inducing situations
- Struggling to make decisions
- Performing rituals to relieve their anxiety
- Avoiding eye contact with others and generally being less assertive
To find out more about the signs that anxiety is impacting your teen’s HSC, head here.
What You Can Do to Help
#1: Start the conversation
Helping your child feel comfortable and letting them know that you’re worried can help them open up and tell you how they’re feeling. This can be difficult for your teen and for you, but letting them know why you’re worried and encouraging them to talk about their feelings or anything that they might be stressing about is a good way to start.
Reassuring your teen that they’re not alone in how they feel can be a great help too.
#2: Stay informed and positive
Keeping up-to-date with what your teen is doing during the HSC and understanding the challenges they’re currently facing can help them feel supported and that their hard work is appreciated, especially as the pressure mounts.
Reading up on anxiety can also help you start the conversation with your teen and be better equipped to help them out when they need it.
#3: Don’t be afraid to ask for help
While there are some things you can do to help as a parent, seeking professional help for your teen (if you haven’t already) can ensure that they get the support they need, when they need it.
To start with, booking an appointment with your family GP can give your teen the opportunity to talk about what’s happening, how they’re feeling, and what their options are for treatment and support.
Top Tips for Helping Your Child with Anxiety
Tip #1: Encourage a healthy diet and sleep routine
Encouraging and helping your teen to eat healthily, exercise regularly, and establish a healthy sleep routine can help them tackle the HSC and succeed.
A healthy diet ensures that your teen gets all of the nutrients they need to keep their brain in top condition while studying, and avoiding junk food and caffeine can ensure that they are able to concentrate and sleep well.
Getting enough sleep can also help your child cope with stress and reduce symptoms of anxiety, while a healthy diet helps them concentrate and stay energised.
Tip #2: Schedule breaks from the books
While studying all hours of the day might seem tempting, taking the time to exercise, socialise, or simply switch-off can help your teen refocus and avoid feeling burned out.
Helping your teen to schedule breaks for other activities such as listening to music, seeing friends, or playing sports can help them achieve a balanced lifestyle and improve their mental health. You can also encourage your teen to learn relaxation techniques so that when things do get stressful, they have tools they can use to calm their nerves and relax.
Tip #3: Help them set goals
Since the HSC can feel like the one thing that defines a student’s future, helping your teen manage their time and set realistic goals for what they can achieve can make the experience less daunting and relieve some of their anxiety.
Resources for You and Your Teen
Supporting your teen can be challenging, but you don’t have to do it alone. For more information about anxiety in young people and how to support them during stressful times such as the HSC, here are some resources you can explore:
Rachel Fieldhouse is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and has just completed a double degree in Science and Arts at The University of Sydney, majoring in Chemistry, English, and Linguistics. Rachel’s writing has been published in Concrete Playground, Inside Enterprise, Planting Seeds, and SURG FM, and she currently writes blog posts for Remi AI, a Sydney-based Artificial Intelligence firm. When she’s not writing, you can find Rachel playing her saxophone or flute, or relaxing with some sudoku.