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It’s that time of the year where students are starting to batten down and prepare for important year-end examinations.

There are the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations), ‘O’ Levels and ‘A’ Levels in Singapore, and the SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) and UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah) in Malaysia.

Parents of students who will be sitting for these exams will no doubt want to do their best to support and help their kids through this highly stressful period.

Check out these five ways you can help your child manage exam stress better.

1. Talk to them about exam nerves
1. Talk to them about exam nerves
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It’s important to communicate to your child that feeling nervous before an exam is entirely normal.

Encourage them to share their feelings or fears with you. Listen to their concerns and help them process their emotions.

Always be supportive and give constructive feedback while avoiding being critical and negative.

Perhaps you can share a simple story about how you overcome work stress so they can understand that stress is something that everyone goes through at different times.

2. Give them a balanced diet
2. Give them a balanced diet
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Prepare well-balanced foods for your children to make sure they get the right nutrition and also avoid illness.

Cut down on high sugar and high fat foods as they can make kids hyperactive and moody, and stay away from caffeinated drinks.

According to a report by the BBC, research has shown that students who eat breakfast perform better in exams.

Choose slow-release carbs, such as whole grain bread, for slow-release energy, and proteins such as milk and eggs to keep them feeling full for longer.

Also, make sure they drink a lot of water and stay well hydrated to avoid tiredness and reduced alertness.

3. Make sure they get enough sleep
3. Make sure they get enough sleep
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Your kids may want to forgo sleep in order to cram in more study time but it is far healthier to encourage them to get to bed early.

According to Dr Rachel Dawkins from the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, kids who regularly get enough sleep have improved attention, behaviour, learning, memory and overall mental and physical health.

Kids aged six to 12 should get between nine and 12 hours of sleep, while teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 should get eight to 10 hours of sleep a night.

4. Help them get some down time
4. Help them get some down time
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The closer you get to the exams, the more important it is to help your kids get some down time away from studying.

This can be in the form of physical activity, such as heading out as a family to the park to get some exercise and enjoy nature.

It can also be in the form of mindfulness meditation, which can help sharpen their mind, help them focus and also improve their memory.

Find out how meditation can further benefit them.

5. Help them with their revision
5. Help them with their revision
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Another way to show support is by helping your child come up with a study timetable.

Talk them through what needs to be done and help them work out how much time they will need for each subject.

This shows them that you are interested in their progress and invested in their success.

Remember to schedule regular breaks for them to unwind.

You can also prepare them for exam day by letting them do practice papers that they will need to complete within the set time.

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