10 tips how to survive the exams – parents’ guide to sanity

Easter holidays are over, spring officially here - world is singing green and yellow. So why is the mood at home dense and stale like forgotten Christmas pudding? It’s the exam, dates for GCSE’s and A Levels are looming, creeping ever closer and dragging along their ugly sisters – panic and hysteria. How can a parent survive until June whilst maintaining serenity and calm, not succumbing to the thoughts of a murder or at least disowning their offspring?

Here are ten steps to achieve this noble aspiration:

1. Duck.
Objects as well as verbal daggers will be flying low. Duck and don’t take any of these personally.

2. Keep the fridge full.
Not just for the resident exam victims but for any unpredictable number of people that come in panic to revise, but end up mainly eating and talking rubbish.

3. Praise the Lord (of choice) – these are not your exams!!
You might have been waking up in sweat recently, dreaming of exams in higher maths or geography. It’s not true!! Be grateful and use this experience to extend a compassionate arm to those who are actually going through it.

4. Don’t ask questions.
Any question is a potential trigger for explosion, but especially the ones from the investigative category – “have you revised?” or “what are you revising today?” Please remember that the kids are already stressed up to their eyeballs by their teachers, who are also stressed by OFSTED. Adding your own anxiety to the mix will not make it better.  

5. Do hug (at least mentally if not allowed otherwise) and acknowledge how hard it is.
Because it is true! It will be the first exam experience if it’s GCSE – and may look like life will end after it! Or, if its A Levels, still first of a kind – and made to look like life cannot begin without it (because by then they are smarter and won’t buy the previous one). From the perspective of three decades or so you know that none of it is true, but somehow are not allowed to spill the beans. 

6. Be proud and excited.
No matter what the results are (and nobody knows what they mean anyway – especially with unknown benchmarks of new GCSE's) your children are about to take on first serious challenges, and are given opportunities to learn about themselves. They are about to find out “who am I when things get tough?” and there is no wrong outcome of this task.

7. Spend a moment a day reminiscing.
What were you like at that age? How scared and anxious were you? How did it come out? Anger? Withdrawal? Overeating? Escaping to peers and fags? Cramming it in last minute? Can you see any familiar patterns in your child now?

8. Let go and let be.
At this point in time “the boat of parental guidance and useful advice” is pretty much gone, floated away. What is left, is faith and trust that all we have been putting into them in terms of values, principles, work ethics will somehow resurface and see them through the madness.

9. Love
No comment.

10. Look after your own sleep and rest.
You can’t do much to make them be sensible, they WILL be freaking out and talking over the phone until small hours, it is part of the drill. But one erratic and edgy person is enough – please make sure you are not that person!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London WC1A & SW16
Written by Anna Jezuita, (MBACP) Relationship Reconciliation,Counselling, Mindfulness
London WC1A & SW16

Anna is a BACP accredited counsellor providing a range of services in Central London, South West London, Camden and via Skype.

She uses person centred approach, and CBT based acceptance and commitment therapy and mindfulness based cognitive therapy to help with a range of issues from depression, addiction, self-esteem to relationship troubles.

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