How to help your Teen cope with exam stress

Starting today BP has Year 9 exams, we were told just before Christmas he would have exams and that he should start revising for them as soon as possible. As a parent my first thought was "What an awful time to make kids revise for exams!", I thought it was really unfair that the school would suggest revising for exams over the Christmas break. I mean, I'm all for making the children work hard but really, Christmas?! Anyway after lots of discussion we had to make BP create a timetable for his revision, the school suggested 30 minutes per day. And of course, that's when the stress began. So in order to help other parents who may find exam time a struggle I decided to do a little research and try to put together a post that would help both you and your teen.





My key to dealing with stress is simple: just stay cool and stay focused. 

Ashton Eaton





Pay attention



It's easy to get distracted with life, especially when you have younger children, and even more at Christmas time. Being wrapped up in preparations and ensuring everyone has all they need for a good break can mean you overlook warning signs that your teen is stressed.

The Hubby and I had to nag BP over the holidays to do his revision. Every day we told him to do it and every day he huffed and stormed around the house because he didn't want to. It wasn't until his first day back at school that I noticed something off, BP wasn't himself. After a long discussion we learned that BP was getting stressed about his exams (amongst other things) and it was causing friction at home. 

So my advice is to pay attention to your teen's moods. There will obviously be the usual strops and mood swings but anything out of the ordinary during exam/revision time is a red flag. 



A moody teenage boy looks into the camera, no smile on his face. He is wearing a grey GAP hoodie, his eyes and hair are brown. The sun rises to the right of him in the background above  grassy mountains.




Listen


Encouraging your teen to talk about their stress and what is causing it is hugely beneficial. It allows them to get it out for a start, and we all know that talking about our problems helps - "A problem shared is a problem halved" as they say. Allow them to express how they're feeling, try not to butt in with your opinions and how you think they should solve their problems. At the moment it should be all about them.

Once your teen is finished talking about how they feel perhaps you could suggest ways in which they could ease their stress.

It took BP to break down in tears for us to see how stressed he was and I feel so bad for not seeing it before. We listened to him and have helped him come up with a timetable for his revision. Talking about his stress and the reasons for them definitely helped him and I've noticed he's a lot happier since having this discussion with him. 




Enforce break times


While it is your job to make sure your teen is revising it is also your job to make sure they're not getting overly worried about it either. The best way to battle anxiety and stress during revision/exam time is to enforce breaks from revising. If they have an hour scheduled for revision make sure they take a break after 30 minutes or so. Or perhaps you could help them by taking them out for a treat, a cinema visit perhaps, in order to take their mind off the revision.





Even though you're growing up, you should never stop having fun. 

Nina Dobrev





We plan on lots of board game playing and trips out, oh and watching The Grand Tour of course. BP loves watching The Grand Tour and it takes him away from his revision, allowing him to laugh and chill out. It is SO important to give them that time.




Give them space


Sometimes the best way to help your teen cope with the stress is to just give them space. Let them stay in their room for a while, let them listen to music, just leave them alone. Giving your teen space to do the things they enjoy could be beneficial to their moods.



the hands of a teenage boy clutch an iPhone close to the camera. He is holding it above a Macbook Air, his black t-shirt is blurred in the background. The photo is in black and white.



We don't usually like BP to spend a lot of time in his bedroom, he has a room downstairs (open-plan) in which he sits to watch his TV and study, but during exam revision time we've been more flexible. He is starting to need that time on his own and restricting his alone time when he is more stressed is not going to help any of us. 




Useful websites


As a parent to a teen going through exam stress I did some research, I tried to find ways I could help BP. Unfortunately because the Year 9 SATS were scrapped the Department of Education website wasn't much use, it may be more useful at GCSE time but for now it didn't help at all. You see the exams that BP is taking are Teacher Assessment exams, as far as I can gather. However I did find the NHS website useful, they have a brilliant page for exam stress and it's written for parents --> Help your child beat exam stress.

For your teen I would suggest the BBC Bitesize site, it has loads of information, test-type questions, and even teachers available to answer questions they may have. BP has found it really helpful and he's used it for most of his revision. It is not only meant for Key Stage 3 students either, it covers a whole range of subjects and years including Key Stage 1 & 2 --> BBC Bitesize KS3.

I visited both the sites listed (as well as many that weren't helpful) and found them to be very useful. They are the only two I could find that offered any kind of help to our situation. I hope they help you too.



The biggest thing I've learned during this time is to be more understanding. I know he has to revise and he doesn't want to have to, I know I need to make him do it, but I also know he needs a break from it. He can't be revising every day and focussing on exams without getting stressed if it's all he thinks about. I have made the decision to be more understanding, trying to be more mindful when I'm encouraging him to do his revision and coming up with good ways to take him away from his revision too.




Is your teen suffering with exam stress?


Run Jump Scrap


Mother of Teenagers

8 comments

  1. Some great advice here Morgan. My son hasn't had any exams yet (or none that he's told me about!) but with gcse options looming I am sure it's only a matter of time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Louisa. Yes BP has his options this year too and it's a weird time - he doesn't really know what he wants to do when he grows up so he's unsure as to what lessons to take. I only hope his options will help him settle on something.

      Delete
  2. Oh this is fab, lots of useful info and tips I will have to remember this post in several years. Thanks for linking up #BloggersBests

    ReplyDelete
  3. It can be frustrating – because deep down, you know you can't do their exams for them. However, there are definitely ways to make sure things aren't any more stressful than they have to be – and to let your teen know that you’re there to help if they need it.
    Visit this page for more helpful information.

    ReplyDelete
  4. great tips. I haven't got to exam stage with mine yet, here in Australia they do exams in year 11 and 12 so when they are aged between 16 and 18 years old, and then at university. Aspen is 13 almost 14, so it is only a couple of years away, I don't want her to become overwhelmed, I like the idea of board games and time out. Thank you so much for sharing this with us for #ablogginggoodtime Just to let you know that sadly Catie (Spectrum Mum) will no longer be a co-host for #ablooginggoodtime, we will have a new co-host this Thursday and you can still link up through Katie or myself reflectionsfromme.com Thanks, love Mackenzie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mackenzie, it is a stressful time but the time out definitely does them good. :)
      Yes, I knew Catie isn't a co-host anymore (what a shame!) but thank you for telling me. xxx

      Delete