So here we go – exam time. Schools are ramping up the pressure and our teenagers are feeling the weight of expectation upon them.
Whether its GCSEs, AS levels or A levels our kids are under enormous strain. It’s hard enough being a teenager with all the anxiety that brings, peer pressure, appearance worries, spots, new experiences, and grown-up problems, without the anxiety of exams.
It’s no wonder that at this time of year I get panicky teenagers galore exhibiting panic attacks, depression, IBS, insomnia and other symptoms indicating that they are not coping as well as they could do.
This is often the first time in their lives that they have experienced this level of stress – and they are scared.
The unfortunate truth is also that with this level of anxiety and nerves they are not going to be doing their best in the exams and all that hard work can go to waste simply because they are nervous.
This is why exams can be massively unfair – calmer kids can do better just because they can think clearly – be logical rather than emotional where it counts – in the exam room.
But if you have a nervous teenager there are some things you can do to help:
- Food – ensure they eat regularly and well. Mood can be dictated by food.
- Sleep – no computers/laptops/iPads/phones after a certain time – to let them wind down before sleep. I know this is a very hard one with teenagers, but quality of sleep is very important so try.
- Downtime – we all need to de-stress during the day. Revision is excellent, but rest time is needed too. Set blocks of time for revision and blocks of time for rest – it will make them more efficient.
- Fun – all work and no play makes your teenager miserable and anxious. Plan in fun to their week. Distraction is essential for the mind to calm down.
- Love and reassurance – this is not their only chance in life. It’s important but it’s not everything.