How to help your teen through exam stress


Exam time can be a tough time for students, but parents are on a similar journey and can often feel just as stressed and helpless.  

We’ve researched a few tips on how parents can help their teen through this challenging time.  

1. Stay connected.  

It may not always seem the case but teenagers do want their parents and care-givers to take an interest in their lives. Make time to inquire and praise them for what they are doing or trying to do, instead of only focusing on the things they aren’t doing or aren’t doing well enough. This will help them feel valued and safe. 

 Take the time to listen before jumping in with advice. Active listening is important so that you can validate your teen’s concerns by not appearing to dismiss them or lecture. By fostering a sense of connectedness, you’ll make yourself the go-to if they’re having problems. 

2. Keep it real 

Encouraging your teen to do well is important. Parents have the bonus of experience; you know that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned but there are so many pathways to success. It’s important to emphasise this to your teen… just don’t lecture or scare them, as saying ‘you’ll end up in a dead-end job if you don’t do well in exams’ may have a demotivating effect instead. 

Neurobiology indicates our brains are still developing well into our early twenties, and sometimes it takes a few years after school for people to work out what they really want to do with their lives. It can take time – it’s not the end of the world! 

3. Limit the negative  

Sometimes managing stress comes down to the way we think about situations. Our thoughts influence how we feel and how we do, so it’s important to break the cycle if you see your teen getting into negative talk.  

If you start to hear the ‘I can’t do this’ or similar, challenge them by asking these questions:  

  • Can you can tell why you think this way? Is there actually evidence to the contrary? 

  • What would you say to a good friend in this situation? 

  • Is it really as bad as you say? 

  • What else might happen instead? Are there other ways of looking at this? 

4. Look after yourself 

Remember that while you always want the best for your child, it’s important they take responsibility for their own study. Monitor your own self-talk and be a positive force in their lives. Your teen will need you to be uplifting and supportive – make sure you take time for yourself so you have the energy to give back. 

 5. Seek support 

At Corpus Christi College we have an active support network for students and their families.  

Encourage your teen to reach out to a teacher if they need extra curriculum resources or study advice; asking for help is nothing to be ashamed about. We also have a robust pastoral care team and on-site psychologists to help students with their well-being during exam time. Parents are also welcome to make contact to discuss academic progress and exam preparation.  

Assessments are a necessary part of schooling. The way that families and teens deal with the challenge can significantly affect the chances of success. By providing encouragement and support, parents can help their child achieve their goals at school and beyond.