After the stress of revision timetables and exam season, many parents and teachers are looking forward to a carefree summer.
However, summer can be anything but relaxing for teens with results day looming.
The pressure to succeed during exam season and the fact that teens may feel like their fate is in the examiners’ hands this summer can lead to anxiety and worries.
Teens can feel in limbo between leaving school, exams and starting the next chapter of life, so as parents, how can you support children with results anxiety without downplaying their emotions?
Signs Of Results Anxiety
- Restlessness, nervousness and fidgeting
- Appetite changes
- Sickness, nausea and upset stomach
- Difficulty concentrating and focusing
- Headaches and tiredness
Teens may also display anxiety emotionally with feelings of:
- Inadequacy and self-doubt
- Anger or fear
How Parents Can Help
1. Recognise And Reassure
Spotting the signs of post-exam worries and reassuring that it’s normal to feel anxious about results day can be a great way to let your teen open up to you.
Remember that while you know there is a huge roadmap of options out there, this will be one of the most significant life-defining moments for your teen, so don’t downplay their fears.
If they don’t feel comfortable talking to you, it may help to buy your teen a journal where they can get those negative thoughts out of their head.
A coach, friend or family member who can offer emotional support can also help.
2. The Circle Of Control
A great exercise to do with a stressed-out teen is the circle of control.
You can download a free circle of control workbook here.
With this, you help your teen reframe their negative thoughts by thinking about what they can control, influence and what’s out of their control. For example:
Can control: How they spend their summer, what they feel and think about their exam results
Can influence: Being part of discussions about exam results, what friends say about results
Can’t control: What the examiner thinks and how they mark you.
Whatever’s in their head, all their worries and thoughts – work with them to try and find where it fits in the circles of control.
Anything out of their control is not worth energy. For what they can control, look at the steps they can take to feel better about the situation.
3. Set Goals That Don’t Rely On Results
Teens can often think the next chapter of their life relies on their exam results.
However, setting goals and exploring potential ways to achieve these goals could open up new possibilities and reframe their way of thinking.
It might be best to start with short-term goals, such as saving enough money over the summer to take a trip away with friends or planning a way to celebrate results day, whatever the outcome.
Then, it may be worthwhile looking at long-term goals.
For example, if they have a goal to work in a specific career, what options are there to get to that goal?
There may be work experience opportunities, apprenticeships, online courses or events that can help your teen achieve their goal.
Some of these options may be well worth exploring regardless of results; others can work as a great backup plan.
Having this structure and focus can help minimise the stress of results day anxiety as they feel in control of their destiny rather than leaving it in the hands of the examiners.
If results or exam anxiety is overwhelming your teen, coaching offers a forward-focused approach to alleviate worries and help your child to feel more confident both now and in the future.
To find out more about coaching for anxious teens, book a free consultation with head coach Karen here.