Dan’s Insights & Tips




As Year 12 students approach their final exams, they grapple with a multitude of stressors, including the pressure to excel, the fear of failure, an overwhelming academic workload, and the uncertainty that looms on the horizon.

It’s important to recognize that stress is an inevitable part of life, and in fact, it plays a vital role in building resilience. While we cannot entirely evade stress, we have the power to manage it effectively. What we can steer clear of, however, is falling into the depths of distress.


“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

(Joshua Marine)

As a parent, your support and guidance can make all the difference in helping your child navigate this crucial phase with confidence and resilience.

Here are 10 tips to help your child manage stress heading into their final exams, avoid distress and finish Year 12 with tenacity, optimism and empowerment.

1. Recognizing the Signs: As a first step, tune in and stay connected. Watch for signs of distress like constant panic, agitation, nervousness, fatigue, nausea, isolation and sleeplessness. 

2. Open Non Confrontational Dialogue: Talk openly with your child to understand the root of their distress (monkeys on their back). Create a judgment-free space for them to express their feelings. Listen actively and empathetically, without the urge to offer advice. Ensure they feel heard and understood.

3. Set Realistic Expectations: Collaboratively establish achievable goals and expectations. Instead of fixating on the elusive ATAR. emphasize the importance of their personal best.

4. Success in the Journey: Remind your child that success is not solely defined by exam results. It’s about the pursuit of excellence and personal growth, regardless of the outcome. The fruit is in the pursuit.

5. Explore Post-Year 12 Pathways: The ATAR is not the end-all, be-all. Encourage your child to explore diverse pathways available after Year 12, opening their eyes to a world of opportunities.

6. Avoid Comparisons:  Comparison can be detrimental. Help your child focus on their progress and journey rather than comparing themselves to peers, siblings or relatives.

7. Prioritize Health & Prevent Burnout: Promote healthy eating, sufficient rest, and regular exercise for a healthy body and mind. Recommend short study breaks to prevent burnout.

8. Family Bonding: Keep the spirit of fun and connectedness alive with regular family activities. Your support system can provide a much-needed emotional anchor.

9. Behind-the-Scenes Support: Small gestures, such as cooking their favorite meal or ensuring a quiet study environment, can go a long way in reducing stress.

10. Daily Encouragement: Remind your child daily that your love and support are unwavering, regardless of their academic achievements.


While the final exams may bring stress, with your guidance and support, your child can thrive during this challenging period. By recognizing distress signs, engaging in open dialogue, and promoting a healthy perspective on success, you can help your child build resilience and embark on a path to success that extends far beyond Year 12.


I’ll leave you with the inspiring words of Jesse Jackson:

Your children need your presence more than your presents

(Jesse Jackson)


Remember, your encouragement and understanding are the keys to helping your child not just survive but thrive during their Year 12 journey, because once they exit the gates of their school for a final time, all that will remain is the connection they have with you.

For short empowering videos you can share with your child from time to time to hear positive messages from ‘an outsider’, follow me on Instagram or Tiktok.

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Daniel Merza is an award-winning international speaker, certified virtual trainer, author, and coach, specialising in wellbeing and leadership.

He has been featured on the radio and various newspaper and media outlets, and his work has also been acknowledged in NSW Parliament.

To order Daniel’s book Get the Monkeys off Your Backclick here. To see Daniel in action, click here. For more information on Daniel’s school programs, click here. For corporate programs, click here.

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Daniel loves to share regular tips and insights that inspire tenacity, optimism and empowerment in others to become the leader of their life and THRIVE.