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The Primary School Leaving Examination, or PSLE, is a big milestone in the life of any child and parent, and a considerable source of stress for all involved. Now that the PSLE is underway, here are some handy tips for your child to relax and find relief.
These tips are provided by Ms Yeo Sha-En, Founder and CEO of Positive Education, an education centre that uses psychology to help children in their learning journey.
1. Pause and take deep breaths
Pausing and taking deep breaths for more than four seconds enables oxygen to flow better and slows your child’s heart rate, which calms them down. It also allows them to move on from dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about a previous bad grade, so they can focus on the present.
Exercising not only takes your child’s mind off the exams, it also stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals called endorphins and keeps cortisol, the stress hormone, at bay.
Mother-of-one Xiao Wen exercises together with her son, who is taking the PSLE this year, at least once a week. They book a badminton court every week and play for one hour for him to release pent-up stress and energy from studying all day.
3. Spend time in nature
Being in a slower-paced environment, such as walking on a trail, by the reservoir, or in the park, encourages children to relax and focus on their natural surroundings. According to Ms Yeo, “environments that help them feel like they are away from their usual routine work best”.
4. Focus on your strengths
This acts as a buffer for stress; when they experience challenges, they can use their strengths to solve problems. It also helps build your child’s confidence.
5. Stay positive
Making a list of three good things that happened during the day cultivates the positive emotions of gratitude and optimism, which help reduce the harmful impact of negative emotions such as frustration, envy, and regret, all of which can cause stress.
Ms Yeo says that remaining optimistic during this period is also really important as “they can look towards the future to see the light at the end of a particularly long or difficult tunnel” and help them feel “less anxious and less depressed about exams or school”.
Instead of focusing on a negative situation, your child can ask themselves questions as if they were on a game show: “What good can come out of this?” “What can I learn from this?” “What strength did I use in this situation?” Thinking of possible outcomes enables them to gain a different perspective.
As a parent, your role is to provide support during this important period in your child’s education. By acknowledging their feelings and providing a listening ear, your child will find it easier to deal with the stress of major exams. So while your child is busy going over formulas and idioms, make sure they don’t forget to unwind at the end of the day!