It’s a nail-biting time, watching your teen prepare for the Leaving Cert exams. Every coach knows the stress of watching from the side lines; being deeply invested in the final score but feeling powerless to influence it.
You can’t sit the exam for them but you can do your best to set them up to win.
We asked Jigsaw clinicians how they support and advise the parents and young people that come to Jigsaw because they’re finding it hard to cope with Leaving Cert stress. They suggested the strategies and tips below on how to support your teen, mind them, cheer them on and keep yourself and your home calm during these final crucial months.
Don’t demonise stress
Stress is our bodies’ natural response to a demand or threat. In other words, stress is a normal reaction for a teenager when facing a challenge as daunting as the Leaving Cert. Appropriate levels of stress will help them get through the exams, increasing their concentration and focus.
If your teenager is getting stressed in the days and hours before, reassure them that the stress isn’t necessarily harmful. Leaving Cert stress is a sign that their body is gearing up to deal with the challenge ahead. When heart rate increases and butterflies appear in their stomach, help them to re-frame these physical responses as their body preparing for a challenge.
Stress is harmful if it is constant (such as every day for three months) or veers into anxiety and panic.