With Year 12 exams commencing, many parents are wondering how best to support their teenagers. Australia’s leading parenting website Raising Children Network has some simple tips to look after the wellbeing of the whole family during what can be a very stressful period.
Executive Director of Raising Children Network, Associate Professor Julie Green, says parents of teenagers can support their children through exams by encouraging the following good habits:
- Sleep. Good quality sleep helps your child to concentrate and remember things vital for exams and exam prep! Conversely, poor sleep or not enough sleep affects concentration, memory and behaviour, making it harder for your child to learn. Encourage a regular bedtime routine in a dark room and electronic devices switched off.
- Exercise. Physical activity has lots of benefits, including assisting with stress and helping sleep patterns in the evening. Encourage your teenager to keep up with their normal sporting/exercise activities, where possible, during the study and exam period. Even a walk around the block in the fresh air can help.
- Nutrition. One of the most nurturing ways you can help your teenager through the study and exam period is to provide nutritious meals and healthy snacks during the day. A healthy diet includes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy, nuts and grains and proteins such as eggs, meat, legumes and fish. Try to avoid processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt.
- Bedtime. Turn off electronic devices an hour before bedtime. This includes loud music, mobile phones, computer screens and TV. Switching off mobiles can be hard for young people, but late night phone calls and text messages can lead to broken sleep.
- Caffeine. Ensure your teenager avoids caffeine (found in energy drinks, coffee, tea, chocolate and cola), in the late afternoon and evening as this can disrupt their sleep cycles, causing insomnia.
- Wind-down time.Encourage ‘wind-down’ time to provide a relaxing buffer between studying and bedtime. Relaxing activities might include a warm shower, writing in a journal, reading a book or magazine or listening to quiet music.
- Support. Your teenager still needs a strong relationship with you to feel confident as they meet the challenges of studying and exams. You can build this strong relationship by working on open communication and staying connected.
The Raising Children Network website is visited by over 40,000 Australians each day. It offers free apps and articles backed by Australian experts.
Videos and apps to help with parenting teenagers are freely available at raisingchildren.net.au/teens.