Twelve Tips for Supporting our Teens
How do we support our teens to prepare for the stresses of exams without adding to the pressure but also ensuring that they make the most of the opportunity? Use these tips by Sharon Eshmade, a counsellor, parenting coach, author, teacher, and mum-of-a-teen with behaviour and learning difficulties, to help you confidently navigate this challenging time and get the balance right with your teen.
|1. Understand how anxiety works |
Psychological fears, just like tangible dangers, make us feel unsafe. When anxious, we instinctively retreat into our impulsive fight or flight prehistoric ‘monkey’ brain. Therefore, our kids’ minds can go blank in exams.
|2. Be a part of the solution |
When relaxed, you use your creative, problem-solving human brain to think. A quick hack to trick your brain into believing you are calm is to breathe deeply through your nose. Explain and work on this with your teen.
|3. Create a revision timetable together |
The more our teens agree, the more likely they are to follow through when needed. Our role is to guide and support them while they make the decisions about when, where, and how they will revise for their exams.
|4. Be specific with the details |
Our teens may agree to daily revision sessions but if they are watching online videos lying on their bed, it’s not constructive. When calm, agree together on the specific revision activities that are the most useful.
|5. How we make the situation worse |
Demonstrating a greater concern for their grades, than their well-being, undermines our teens’ self-esteem. When we shout, we add to their insecurity and anxiety, as well as their feelings of not being good enough.
|6. Facing our fears |
Fearing they will fail is one of our greatest parenting concerns. It’s our role to calmly explain our worries so that we don’t inadvertently communicate that we think they are incapable, or we care only about their grades.
|7. Focus on our relationship |
Our role is to keep our teens psychologically safe while safeguarding them from anxiety. We can demonstrate our unconditional love during this challenging time by asking, “Are you okay? How can I help?”
|8. Understand procrastination |
Our teens often procrastinate because they fear failure so they may shut down and not try. Help alleviate this problem, remove grade-related pressure, and consciously and unconditionally love the child you have.
|9. What if they don’t follow through? |
The earlier our teens learn from natural negative consequences, the quicker they will ‘fail forward’. By trying it their own way, they take on increasing responsibility for their successes and missteps in life.
|10. Take away other pressures |
Downtime, socialising, and having fun are important right now, so it’s time for us to step up and be more helpful. When we do our teens’ chores and prioritise their needs, they are more likely to cooperate too.
|11. Stay away from bribery |
If our teens work hard and don’t achieve well, they will most probably feel bad. When we praise their effort before the exams, we send the message that we love them unconditionally no matter what their grades.
|12. Ask for help |
Follow Sharon Eshmade on social media for tips and support. Visit her website, http://www.crashtestmummy.net, to download her book or the audiobook, Crash Test Mummy, or request a supportive counselling session.