Your child has a significant exam coming up and stress is in the air… How can you both survive this intense time to the best of your abilities?
First, I would like to share with you the 7 essential daily mental activities that Daniel Siegel (www.mindplatter.com) is suggesting to avoid “the epidemic of overwhelm”.
To keep a healthy brain, you need:
- “focus time” with specific goals to make deep connections in the brain
- “play time” to be creative and make new connections
- “connecting time” with others or nature to activate relational circuits
- “physical time” to strengthen the brain
- “time in” to tune inward and to integrate the brain
- “down time” to recharge the brain
- “sleep time” to rest the brain
Preparing for an exam, your child will most probably not reach this balance but you can help them by keeping this approach in mind yourself and gently suggesting they incorporate it.
- He has not stopped working? Bring him some water and a snack and have a chat to give him a break.
- He is uncertain about his ability? Connect with a gentle pat in the back when walking past him.
- He has been holed up studying for several hours? Suggest that he pops to the shops or offer to go for a run with him.
- He is tired? Recommend taking a bath, or listening to restorative music.
- He does not want to study? Offer to do your own work next to him, agree on a time with no talking and put a timer on.
- He cannot concentrate? Get him to agree to switch off his mobile or leave it outside his bedroom. Play some music that aids concentration.
And even more powerful, ask him what you can do to help. It will convey the message that you are on the same team.
Don’t forget to prepare his favourite meal! The smell will be a fantastic message of love and he will wind down while eating.
Offer to clear up after so he can quickly go back to studying - it will help him agree it’s time to go back.
Refuse to discuss whether he should have worked more in the months before, or if he has chosen the right subjects, or if the teacher has prepared them well or not. All those discussions are variations of procrastination: energy is needed for concentration not diversion.
Keep the level of stress down at home by letting go of your usual domestic expectations and prioritise studying. No criticism, no judgement.
And…remember to tell them that you want them to do the best they can (be sure that you/they do not have unrealistic expectations). Only they can know for certain if they are. The power is back in their hands and they usually love it!
Don’t forget to have all your essential mental activities yourself to keep sane.
Resourcing oneself to be able to give is a duty not an option if you are a parent.
Hopefully you will soon all enjoy some downtime together!
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