GCSE, AS & A Level Exam results will be coming through soon in the UK and this can be a time of huge stress and anxiety. Even though it’s normal to suffer anxiety at this time, fear of failure can be devastating to kids who tie their self-worth to the outcome of a test and anxiety can result in sleepless nights, irritability or short temper, and poor appetite or comfort eating and snacking.
Across the country, there will be youngsters feeling anxious and uncertain about what their future holds and as parents this stress can often be mirrored by us. Children who don’t receive results they may have wanted or expected can often blame themselves and label themselves as being ‘not good enough’ or ‘bad at exams’. These labels that they put on themselves are not healthy and can have an impact on how they move forward.
In today’s world, there are increasing expectations and pressures on children. Imagine how valuable it would be if we pre-empt whatever the outcome and ‘results’ may be and teach our children that these results do not define who they are. Self-worth should not be dependent on or defined by a test grade, and if in fact they do not come out as expected then it is just a normal bump in the road and it is how we deal with these upsets that shape who we really are.
If this is the situation that you may find yourself in – how would it be if you could help your child to deal with the disappointment of not achieving the results they wanted, using simple techniques that can easily help alleviate some of the issues that might arise from exam results – and other forms of bad news or misfortune…
You may find Cai Graham can help…
Cai Graham is a parent, coach, and author of The Teen Toolbox and founder of ‘Peak Parenting’. Cai specialises in supporting families overcoming obstacles; including communication issues, loss and trauma, so that they can enjoy a brighter future. Her mission is to empower parents and teenagers with the tools and techniques they need to cope with the challenges of modern day life.
Cai offers the following tips on dealing with exam ‘results’ time and how to support your child – even before the results are released:
- Have a Plan B up your sleeve: You don’t necessarily have to share this with your child – as that might reinforce their worries and indicate that you don’t have confidence in their abilities. That said, a Plan B helps them feel prepared, and more in control if they are worrying.
- Unconditional Love: Ensure that they know that you love and support them, regardless of their grades – and that your approval of them is not based on their academic successes. Many children lose sleep about letting their parents down.
Results Day: Don’t Panic.
Immediately after receiving the grades – emotions will be running high – so the most appropriate of action is support and reassurance.
Perhaps your child has not received the grades that they had hoped for. Remove your ego and disappointment and focus on your child’s feelings right now.
If indeed, your child had not studied as hard as they should – then lessons should be learned later on, by helping them to understand the consequences of not putting enough effort will help them in the long run. However, there are many students, who might have studied very hard and still not received the results they had hoped for. In this case it is advisable to acknowledge the effort that they put in rather the results themselves.
- Comfort them: Tell them that you are unhappy with the result and not them.
- Social Media: Help them to understand that Social Media does not always reflect the truth. Avoid comparisons between them and their friends.
- Give them Space: Help them express their feelings and their anxieties, as bottling it up is not healthy.
- Confront their Fears: Do not ignore these frustrations. Life often throws us curve-balls and it’s at the times of struggle that we learn the biggest lessons. Your child will develop resilience and by coping with disappointments now they will be able to adjust and handle challenges in the future.
- Encourage them: This is not the time to throw in the towel. Support your child to still follow their dreams – even though the route may be a slightly different one as initially planned.
Talk to them:
- Use Open Questions: How do you think things could improve for next time? What could you do differently?
- Brainstorm: Encourage your child to think about their actions and the consequences.
- Problem Solving: Allowing them to work out possible solutions gives your child back control, and if they come up with the answers themselves they are more likely to work towards an outcome they can buy into. There will be alternatives that they might not have considered beforehand.
Finally, it’s worth noting that many famous people didn’t do very well in their exams: Richard Branson, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill and they recovered perfectly well.
Cai’s book ‘The Teen Toolbox’ provides parents of teenagers with tips, tools and approaches to help them make the transition through life’s tricky stages. She has blended over two decades of motherhood with her background as a therapist and coach to create an online education program, this book, and one-of-a kind luxury retreats for families.
‘The Teen Toolbox’ encourages kids to adopt a “Can Do” attitude, without a sense of entitlement and addresses the following:
•Decision Making and Problem Solving
•Values & Beliefs