Helping your teen through exam time doesn’t have to be a mine field of walking on egg shells and tip toeing around. It’s about being practical and helping them identify their own responses and showing them how to address these issues. Ensure you’re not adding pressure by setting unrealistic expectations or standards on them, and they’re not doing the same to themselves. Their lives, their choices, their consequences.
Some students will mask their stress and anxiety with a complete shut down of “I don’t care” and take themselves out of the game by just not trying, or taking part. Making out they don’t care about their grades (if a child in senior is doing this either they’re doing the wrong subjects or they’re not equipped to cope with real world stressors’ or aren’t worried about the future which is another topic for another time).
Some will take on board every little thing and react with either emotional or angry outbursts or both!
Some aren’t academic and may or may not stress over upcoming exam times by getting depressed at their perceived lack of achievement.
Some kids will breeze through exam time, knowing they’ve done the hard work and their best is all they can do (for this group, a huge kudos to you as parents for teaching them these amazing life skills).
Stress is a natural response. It’s a healthy response. It can motivate, drive and keep you focused. But there comes a point where too much stress turns to anxiety and causes mental health and/or physical issues. Everyone’s stress levels differ. Help your teen identify when they’re moving into unhealthy stressing and give them some coping mechanisms such as the one’s listed below. If it gets too bad it may be time for some professional intervention such as school guidance counsellor, seeing a psychologist through a GP Allied Health Plan or Headspace etc or helping them learn meditation and breathing exercises.
You can check in with them regularly – not when they’re studying but on the drive to school, at breakfast or dinner time – it’s important during exam times to have family meal times – no devices, no study notes, no headphones, just family time to offload, talk things through, to keep a bit of normality in their lives.
You can give them their space. Ensure they have a quiet, suitable study place in the home where younger siblings will leave them alone and they can concentrate.
Spoil them: My grade 11 daughter has her study desk in her bedroom which at the start of study period I plaster with positive and encouraging post-it notes for her, reminders to take a break, breathe and hydrate etc. I also stock it with bananas, fruit and nut mixes and her favourite chocolates – Lindt.
If they’re working part time help them to manage this with study and deadline expectations. For student’s going for university entry scores now is not the time to be getting as many hours at work as possible, now is the time to prioritise study. Teach them how to liaise with their boss to get required time off. Short term losses for long term gains. It’s also a great life lesson to teach them.
One of the greatest skills teenagers can learn is time management. Teach them how to prioritise tasks can help reduce stress and help them feel more in control. Having assessment pieces handed in prior to due dates teaches them not to leave things to the last minute, reducing a lot of stress. It also then clears them up to focus on exams.
Teach them all the tricks you learnt or if you weren’t very academic or scholarly ask someone you know who was, for their top tips. As someone with 3 degrees, mine are:
- If you can’t explain something in under 3 sentences, you don’t understand it well enough. Study to understand, not remember.
Remember, if stress gets beyond the normal, seek professional counselling and services.
Good luck seniors, school holidays are so close.
Good luck parents, empty nest is far too close now (and that’s a whole other article).
With Christmas and Graduations just around the corner, get in early and pick up some of our last remaining copies of Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens which is 16 chapters of tips to help your teens navigate the real world. Pick up a copy for just $10 HERE
Reflections usually happen around the start of the year which also coincides with my birthday – good timing! This year I’ve been focusing on what I want to be when I ‘grow up’. Contrary to what our kids and teens think, most of us adults are just winging it, and the decisions we make as seniors in high school rarely see us in the ‘career/job’ we thought we’d be in 30 years later. It’s important to keep reiterating this to your senior schoolers – it helps take the stress out of things that your decisions now, are it! They’re not. We get so many goes at creating our own lives and we get so many lives within our one life. As part of my work in the Aged Care Industry one thing that is common in across all conversations with 80 and 90 year olds is that we have so many different lives within our one life.
The good news is if you make bad choices in one part of your life, that doesn’t have to reflect in your next chapter. We get to decide. We get to make choices that change our ‘destinies’ and we get to create our own lives. Another amazing thing to teach our kids. Our choices, lead to consequences that create our life = awesome. One of my favourite sayings goes something like this “If you’re not happy where your life is, get up and change it. You’re not a tree!”. One bad choice may result in some pretty bad consequences but that doesn’t define who you are or who your teen is. Next choice can be better, and so on and so on. Same goes for us and our budgets.. just saying 🙂
But just like anything in life once you’ve made the choice to go in another direction, start a new career, start budgeting better, plan a holiday or whatever your new dream is you need to set yourself achievable and measurable goals. Teach your kids how to set goals. Maybe do some as a family this week before school goes back. Talk about what making the choice to achieve a particular goal will look like in the form of the consequences .. short and long term. And as always I promote doing vision boards. A page with pictures of your dreams on them… then setting your goals, mini and mega, on how you’re going to get there. Eg. Family holiday that will cost $10,000 in 18 months. Well that’s X amount per week we need to save, so in order to do that we will cut x from the budget, declutter our home together then hold a garage sale or Ebay to get rid of it and bring some extra cash into the home (or find extra work, or take on extra clients or shifts, or teens getting jobs or or or the possibilities are endless). Your life, your choices, your consequences remember 🙂
Since I was little I’ve wanted to be a writer. I still do. That hasn’t changed at all. So I write where I can. I get paid to write reports after my assessments. But ultimately my absolute passion is in researching and writing articles, ebooks and books that improve other people’s lives (usually because it improved mine first through learning the hard way). So with that in mind I’m still writing my blogs, I’m still promoting my book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens and beginning my next one “How to raise independent, responsible and resilient humans’ (or something like that… haven’t got the exact title yet), and have another venture or two up my sleeve that I won’t jinx by talking about it before it happens. Stay tuned…..
It’s still the first week of January.. first week of the new year.. a clean slate still before us.. what choices will you and yours make this year that require goals to bring about the desired consequences that create the lives you want? Go for it.. you’re all worth it and what a great thing to role model to your kids and teens.
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The kids spoilt me as always for my birthday… all with their own money and minds. Miss 15 got me a massage voucher, Miss 14 a spa pedicure voucher, and Mr 9 a scented candle with diamonte heart band, and Choccies. We went to the movies to see Pitch Perfect 3 and then Chinese Banquet dinner nom nom nom. Have felt the love with all the texts, calls, and posts xo xo xo I’m 35..with a ‘few’ years experience 😉 Thank you for the love, I’ve definitely felt it.