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Exams without tears

Parents play a vital role in helping students to maintain a positive mental outlook in the run-up to exams. Here are some ways that you can help.

Better communication

Young people are individuals who express themselves in diverse ways - and this extends to the ways they talk about their mental health.
Whatever comment your child makes in passing, even if something seems like a bit of banter, don't ignore it. Everyone has different sensitivity levels, and what you might disregard as a throwaway comment could be the tiniest hint at a much bigger issue. Open up a dialogue about that comment. A small sympathetic action like this might encourage them to open up about something that goes much deeper.

Work place

As a parent, just by running a positive and supportive household you are helping your child to succeed. You should also ensure there is a distraction-free place to study - but be aware that everyone is different and definitions of "distraction-free" do vary! If studying at home doesn't work, consider some alternative places ­ the school library, or a public library, perhaps. And also acknowledge the need for breaks: offer a walk or a quick cuppa at the kitchen table if your child looks like they need it (but don't be offended if they decline).

No pressure

Making excessive demands of your child is unhelpful. Whatever their circumstances, young people generally care about their futures and want to do well at school and beyond. You'll often find they put enough pressure on themselves, without the need for anyone else to add to it.

Keep it real

Don't waste time on 'ought to' and 'should'. Help your child plan a realistic revision timetable (not just one that reflects the amount of revision they feel they ought to be doing) and encourage them to ignore what their friends are (or appear to be) doing. Your child's revision should be all about their own needs.

Stay on target

Have confidence in your child's abilities and support them in targeting their revision towards the areas they struggle with. This approach will build up their confidence, which should, in turn, reduce their stress levels.

Resources

For parents: The YoungMinds Parents' Helpline offers free, confidential, expert advice on 0808 802 5544, Monday­ Friday between 9.30am-4pm.

For teachers: YoungMinds' Academic Resilience page provides free, practical resources to help everyone in your school community support pupils.

For pupils: YoungMinds Vs, an online movement encouraging young people to talk about mental health, has created a School Stress Campaign Pack of revision tips, playlists, and activist stories for young people to read and share online.

Exams Without Tears originally appeared in our Summer 2016 Magazine, and was contributed by YoungMinds.

Reviewed: January 2018

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