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A parent's guide to exams

Exam season, unhelpfully twinned with hayfever season, is upon us again. Young people across the country are going through GCSEs and A-Levels. Some will be cramming in last minute study sessions, others will be unerringly chilled about the whole thing. However they seem, the pressure is real. And parents can make things a little easier.

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How to help a teenager with exam stress

This advice comes from our mental health services, which have seen a rise in the number of children saying they are worried about the next few weeks.

As parents, we all want to support our children but sometimes it's difficult to know how. Follow these simple steps to help your children through their exams.

tips for parents

father arm around son

Pause chores

If your child helps around the house, could you give them a little break from chores until their exams are over? Time off from any non-urgent commitments will give them more time to focus on themselves. 

Create space

Do you have space for a small study area? If not, be mindful of their studying times and try be as quiet as possible so they can concentrate. 

Stay social

If the young person has hobbies or activities they enjoy, encourage them to keep them up. It's good to get outside and make the most of time away from their books.

Be encouraging

Exams are stressful and, for most of us, not particularly fun. Young people need encouragement. Tell them you believe in them, that they will be fine and things will work out. 

If you are worried they may not do well, remind them it's about doing their best, not being the best. Cheesy but it's true! 

more exam tips for parents

Build routine

Creating a bit of structure in the day can help them eat well and get a good amount of sleep each night.

Take breaks

Within that routine, make sure they're taking regular breaks. If their studying involves reading from a computer screen, plan an active break where you go on a quick walk or play a game. Mix it up. 

Listen

As well as being encouraging, it's important to listen. Let them have a rant and vent their frustrations. Yes, learning Pythagoras does seem pointless at the time, we've all been there, but you never know! 

mother laughing hugging sun from back

Think ahead

Exams don't last forever. They will be done soon and it will be an exciting new chapter. Plan something to look forward to when the final exam is handed in. 

Know the options

Lastly, look into alternatives if the young person doesn't get the grades they need. There are so many routes to happiness and exam grades aren't the be all and end all. There will always be other courses, apprenticeships, colleges. Clueing up on these and having the conversation will show your child that there's still hope. Exams aren't as final as people make them seem.

Our well-being resources may also be helpful for helping teenagers with exam stress.