Dealing with exams
It’s the Easter Holidays and Spring is with us but for many young people and their families the main topic of the moment is the tests and exams coming up after the break. Whether it is SAT’s, GCSE’s or A Levels - performance and results can be sabotaged by fear and nervousness.
All of us can easily foresee the effects for our children if they do not achieve their potential – not because of lack of intelligence or hard work but simple because they are incapacitated by anxiety. So what can be done about it?
Hypnotherapy can help with relaxation and learning self-hypnosis can enable the client to relax before exams and while revising. In addition they can learn cognitive behavioural skills to help them to manage their fear and anxiety and to put themselves in the best mental and emotional state to do well.
These skills are practiced in hypnotherapy sessions and then, as ‘homework’, by the individual while in self-hypnosis. This enables them to develop new habits to replace the old unhelpful habit of extreme nervousness.
People are often surprised that it is not only possible, but relatively easy and sometimes great fun to do hypnotherapy with children. In fact, young people make brilliant hypnotherapy clients. They are curious and open and have amazing imaginations. They engage in role-play games and are often in trouble for ‘day dreaming’.
In hypnotherapy, these skills are utilised for beneficial reasons. They help the young person to deal with an issue - such as exam anxiety - that is affecting their life, the lives of those around them and often their future. It is possible to work with children from age six upwards and a parent or guardian is always present up to the age of 16 at least.
Exam time can be a stressful time in any family, but particularly so when the young person involved is suffering from extreme stress and anxiety. This affects the whole family and often leads to behavioural problems that can make the situation worse.
It can become a nightmare dealing with tears, tempers, sulks and slammed doors, while being frustrated by not knowing what to do. It is even worse watching your child becoming more and more miserable, desperately wanting to help, wishing you could do the work and sit the exams for them but knowing it’s now down to them.
Even though the tests and exams are nearly upon us, it is not too late to take action. Ideally, I would recommend contacting a nearby hypnotherapist who works with children but if that is not possible then here are some ideas that can help:
Find suitable relaxation recordings
There are recordings suitable for different ages, and adult ones may be suitable for the older age group. Review the recording first before giving it to the child to make sure that you are happy with it and consider it suitable. Or you could make up your own progressive relaxation session to do with a younger child, particularly if you have your own favourite way of relaxing.
Simple relaxation techniques
There are simple techniques to help the child get rid of unwanted worries and fears and here you can really engage their imaginations. Where would they like to put their worries – in the bin or in specially designed cupboards or boxes? Allow their imaginations to run as wild as they like and then when they get anxious, remind them where to put their fearful thoughts.
You could weave age appropriate stories to tell while your child is relaxed, where they can get rid of their worries and pick up calmness and confidence. These can be based on favourite books, movies or games. If this seems a bit of a daunting prospect, involve them or get them to write their own stories. They (or someone of their choice) could then record the story to be listened to when required. Younger children, however, might appreciate time alone with a favourite adult reading their story to them.
I think that a key point is that this stressful time of tests and examinations is not one to be just endured and got through. This would not be in the best interests of the young person or those around them.
Take some action that suits everyone involved to provide support, make life over the next couple of months more pleasant and, hopefully, ensure that the person concerned is able to demonstrate their full potential.
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