Childline advice for managing exam stress

by My Kent Family reporter

School exam season is almost upon us and if you’re a parent with a child at secondary school you may be caught up in a whirlwind of school work, revision and sleepless nights.

Exams can be really stressful for children.

Childline services manager Wendy Robinson shares some advice for families which might help in the coming weeks:

Childline offers some advice ahead of exam season
Childline offers some advice ahead of exam season

The pressure to perform well, the panic and the worry means thousands of children turn to Childline for help as they struggle to cope.

Last year (2017/18) our Childline volunteers delivered 3,135 counselling sessions on exam stress and just over a fifth of these took place in May.

Half of the counselling sessions were with young people aged 12 to 15 years old.

They talked about feeling overwhelmed by their workload, pressure from their parents and worries about whether they would get the grades they want.

They also said the prospect of taking exams was having an adverse effect on their mental health, with some saying it was leading to them self-harming, feeling depressed or experiencing anxiety.

One teenage girl told our counsellors: “My parents are really annoyed with my exam results. I thought I was going to do well and get good grades because I prepared loads but I failed.

"I feel like a waste of space. I’m trying to remain positive but it’s hard – I feel like my parents hate me.”

Lots of students are in the midst of revision
Lots of students are in the midst of revision

To help children cope with the pressure of exams, there are some simple things you can do to help:

  • Don’t place unnecessary pressure on your children to gain certain grades.
  • Encourage children to take regular breaks, eat snacks and exercise.
  • Help them revise by leaving them the space and time to do so.
  • Be supportive and help your child with their worries by talking to them.

Exams are very important and we really want young people to do their best. However, it’s important to remind them that if things don’t go exactly according to plan there will be lots of other opportunities for them to express themselves and succeed.

It is vital that young people feel supported by family, friends and teachers during the exam period to help them do the best they can.

Childline is also here 24/7 for any young person needing confidential support and advice. Children can call and speak to one of our trained counsellors on 0800 1111 or visit more information.

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