Tips to Minimise Exam Stress
Has your child fared badly in exams? Has he or she failed your expectations. You could be stressed as a parent if your child has not performed well in exams. Here's how you can handle the stress:
Tips on handling exam results
- Don’t let unrealistic expectations of your children or hopes and fears for them become entangled with a wish to relive your own triumphs or make up for your own losses?
- Try to separate what you might have wished for yourself at their age from what they wish for themselves now. Support them in their dreams rather than pressurizing them to do it for you.
- After months of work and anticipation, every member of the family can feel stressed. Be patient, understanding, and prepared to say, “We’re all on edge at the moment – can we talk about it?”
- Parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters can feel the strain just as much as the young person taking the exams. Watch out for upset stomachs, headaches and backaches, poor sleeping, eating too much or too little, moodiness, crying fits and lost tempers, lack of energy and concentration, loss of interest and anxiety.
- Discuss in advance with your child where they want to be when the results come out – at home or away on holiday. Look at all the pros and cons with them and if you can, go with their request.
- Have some contingency plans, however, in case they have a last moment panic and change their minds.
- Recognize that exam results mark the end of one and the beginning of a new phase in your child’s life, and of yours. This can be unsettling and lead to unease, depression or irritability.
- They may be moving on to a new place of education and losing touch with some friends and may feel nervous and gloomy. Even if they remain in the same school, it will be with a different status and new expectations.
- You may be moving on from being the parent of a child to an adolescent or towards the stage when they leave home entirely.
- Whatever pose they put on, your child cares deeply about their results and about your attitudes towards them.
- Encourage them to talk and reassure them that you are behind them and love them whatever the results.
- They are likely to be putting themselves under pressure and could be feeling anxious and depressed. What happens next may depend on their grades, but assure them that what you feel and think about them does not.
- Discuss with your child what results both of you anticipate and make sure you have the same realistic expectations. Reassure them that failing an exam doesn’t make them a failure and that while you may all be disappointed in the results, you aren’t disappointed in your child.
- Have a contingency plan for what to do if results aren’t as good as you hoped.
- Know who to call at the school for advice or support. If your child had a place at college conditional on results, have a contact number – you can often negotiate on a lower grade. And know how to get in touch with UCAS (Universities' and Colleges' Admission Service) to find a place at another college if the first one falls through.
- Put things into perspective. Everyone loses out at some time or other and failing an exam isn’t the end of the world. They can re-sit, using what they have learned this time round to do better or decide to go a different route next time. What is important is for you to look for positive ways forward, to consider all the options available and to be behind them 100%.
- Plan an event to mark the results. Whatever these are, celebrate the effort that went into them and make it clear that you love, respect and value your child for themselves, independent of their achievements.
- Problems that might have been put on the backburner during the exam period could suddenly emerge once the crisis is over. You may need to acknowledge what has been simmering under the surface for some time and address it, head on.
- One or both parents may feel once exams are finished their children do not need their support as much and decide to attend to their own needs, which could involve facing up to or deciding on issues around their couple relationship.
- Any difficulty in the parental relationship or between parent and child or among brothers and sisters can blow up into full-scale conflict once the focus on getting through exams has gone.
- If there is a couple problem, you could contact a counsellor through your own doctor.
- If the experience has been too stressful or their results were not as good as they hoped, young people may be ready to give up at this stage. Parents may need to guide them firmly into going back to education and trying again. You do, however, have to keep a careful balance. Young people sometimes have a better idea than their parents as to what is good for them. It is not helpful to push them to do something you did or wanted to do, rather than what is right for them.
- Parents and children need to communicate – and this means both talking and listening to each other. It might help to get an outsider such as a teacher, mediator, youth counsellor or mentor to help.
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