Written by Rosa Ghidella
With the pandemic affecting HSC kids two years running, it is important to understand the pressure your kids may feel and, as a parent, the support to your child through the HSC is even more important.
As a parent, you want the best for your kids. Studying and preparing for the HSC is a stressful time in a young person’s life. Kids may look to their teachers, peers and parents for support. Living through a pandemic adds another dimension to the myriad of emotions from fear of the unknown, anxiety, depression, a sense of isolation, confusion.
It is important for you, as a parent, to find ways to support them. It can be a fine line between keeping them motivated and focused and ensuring they don’t get completely overwhelmed or crushed by self-doubt and panic or lack of sleep and worry.
Stress can be debilitating to us all and adults and teenagers are not immune to it. Here are a few tips to help your kids navigate their way through their HSC year.
Create healthy social habits
Encourage them to eat dinner with you as a family. Not only is this important to give them a break from their study, but also offers some emotional time out and an opportunity to share some time together.
Tap into Student HSC Support Resources
There are many student support resources online. Spend some time with your kids finding resources that can assist them when they need additional support. NSW Education Authority have some great support resources including past exam papers and study guides to help your HSC student.
Regular Bed Time
Sleep is essential to a healthy mind and body. Our brain needs down time to regenerate. While meeting study deadlines is important, make sure your kids have a regular bed time schedule to get enough sleep. It may mean ensuring they go to bed at a reasonable hour, for example, 3 times a week. If sleep evades them, add an essential oil diffuser in their bedroom. There are many beautiful ones on the market that add additional features like a soothing night lamp. Simply add 3-4 drops each of Lavender, Lemon and Geranium essential oils and turn it on an hour or so before bedtime. These essential oils have relaxing, calming yet uplifting therapeutic value to help your child calm down before bed and get a good night’s sleep.
Turn off devices 1 hour before bed
If your kids are too “wired” to sleep, encourage them to turn off their devices 1 hour before bed. If space allows, create a separation between their study and sleep areas, even if this is with a small partition.
Epsom Salt Bath or Footbath
Studying is stressful, and the combination of stress and sitting in front of a computer for hours on end can result to stiff muscles and joints. Another way to support your child through the HSC is to encourage your teen to take regular baths before bed with 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts (and 3-4 drops Lavender essential oil). As Epsom salts are Magnesium Sulphate Heptahydrate – a natural, chemical-free muscle relaxant – the bath will soothe any aches and pains and help them relax so their are not so wired before bed. If they are dealing with muscular tension due to the amount of time at the desk, consider a Magnesium supplement. A heat pack placed over the shoulders and neck can also help to ease tension.
Support your kids to stay as healthy as possible throughout the year with nutritious, nourishing and filling food, and particularly leading up to . Keep healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, vegetable sticks, protein bars, rice crackers and healthy dips on hand. When kids overload on junk food and sugar they can experience brain fog. Ensure they are also hydrated with plenty of water. If you need professional nutritional advice to support your child through the HSC, our Naturopath, Keri Hogarth, offers Zoom consultations throughout lockdown.
Social Connections during Physical Distancing
Encourage them to have an active social life. Staying glued to their study books can be isolating and limiting. Quality time out with mates offers them emotional peer support as well as a break from the heavy duty study. During lockdown, encourage them pick up the phone or connect via FaceTime or Snap Chat. Time out is with their friends for periods of time as another form of peer support. Keeping active physically is also important. Going for a brisk walk or bike ride (keeping COVID-safe), doing regular stretches or yoga, even spending time out in the garden, all have physical and emotional health benefits.
Keep a dialogue open with them about the broader things in life.
While the HSC is an important year for them, remind them that they have so many options by way of careers in today’s world that are fulfilling and rewarding. If you are concerned that your child may be showing signs of extreme stress or anxiety, our counsellor, Tak Ananda, offers counselling sessions for individual students and their parents, via Zoom during lockdown.
In this period of social and physical distancing, ensure your kids get lots of reassuring hugs. Human touch is so important to our emotional health and sense of security. Research shows that regular human touch signals safety and trust. It soothes and calms cardiovascular stress, increases levels of dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood and ease stress and anxiety. Offer them a little scalp, neck and shoulder massage.
Rosa Ghidella – Haberfield Health