Does your child suffer with exam stress?

I recently blogged about my coaching experience with two 14 year-olds currently preparing for their exams.  It brought up lots of icky stuff for them like fear of failure, thinking they are not good enough, feeling dumb and on top of the stresses of every day life.

I think that makes for a rather harrowing experience.  It would be mad to think that a person is defined by their exam grades.  However, you would believe this to be true seeing the way some kids react.

Of course we are all so much more than our exam grades and still the pressure is mounting as the countdown to exams has begun.

In some schools, exams are only weeks away. If you are a family entrenched in exam mania, as a parent, you could find yourself walking on eggshells. Or if you are a child taking exams, you could be busy revising or at least stressing about not revising. I used to leave my revision until the last minute as I felt I worked better under pressure. Some people do and others prefer to be well prepared. It’s different strokes for different folks.

I found an interesting article from the BBC which says ‘For thousands of youngsters, crucial exams are nigh. Many say the pressure on students should be minimised, but should people just accept it as a fact of life, asks Matthew Syed. ‘

Are exams an important life lesson?

I personally think too much importance is placed on exams. Not all of us are blessed in that department. All children have the potential to achieve something with their lives. Each child has their own unique abilities, interests and personal qualities that determine which path they take in life. Nobody really learns anything by force – it can only come from a natural interest and a desire to explore a subject.

When have I ever used trigonometry, Latin or how to rice farm since leaving school?

I’m joking of course. I do recognise that an exam has other disciplines to teach and can be an excellent grounding for handling challenging situations that life throws at us.  It helps us to learn to work under pressure which is vital in today’s fast paced daily flurry.  Pressure is part of life – fact.  It’s how you look at it, how you describe it, how you think about it and what you do about it that counts the most.  I must say that whilst coaching these poor overworked and stressed kids towards their exams it made me want to smile at them and say ‘Don’t worry there will be things that matter more in your life!!’  I didn’t of course.  However, I did put the exams into perspective and talk to them about what is important in their lives – family, healthy, friends, love and so on.

Passing is enough – you don’t have to be the best!

My Mum often told me that doing my best was good enough and by being happy was more important, then that would have taken the pressure off me.  I know now she was right but somehow I never heard her when I was sitting my exams.  Maybe that’s because other people around me – teachers and friends were giving me a different message.  It’s funny how we don’t appear to want to take advice from our parents.

Learning life skills that make growing up that little bit easier

They don’t teach you this at school.  Not directly anyway.  Learning how to work well under pressure or how to make a decision or how to manage your time better.  Or how to keep a secret, how to trust somebody, how to pick good healthy friendships, what you value, how to recognise your strengths and be proud of your achievements without showing off.  Maybe you will learn some of it from your parents, grand parents or friends and family.  Or you can learn it with me.

To help your kids get through their exams, you  might like to try some Smiley 1-2-1 Coaching. Get in touch to find out how coaching can give them tools to cope with the pressure, relaxation techniques for a good night’s sleep and understand how their brain works so they can use it in the best way possible during this stressful time.

The journey of a thousand miles starts by trying a different approach.  So if your kids would like some help with their exams or anything else in life that seems to be a little troublesome, I’d love to help.

We completed a course of sessions early in the year with Lisa for our daughter who was doing her 11 plus exams. Our daughter is a bright and kind girl but worries a lot and we were having endless arguments about homework and revision as she got more and more anxious about the impending exams. Lisa was perfect – she was bubbly and easy to approach and my daughter loved every session and would look forward to talking to her each week. Lisa gave my daughter so many tips on how to love herself, how to be more confident and succeed in exams and she still uses these tools. Our house was certainly much calmer once my daughter started seeing Lisa and unbelievably our daughter was relaxed for each of her exams – we couldn’t believe it. So thank you Lisa! It was largely down to you! I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Lisa and would certainly use her again with either of my children.

Mrs J, Oxshott

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