Oh I can hear the students and pupils laugh… But hang on, please do bear with me for a minute – this perhaps isn’t quite as ridiculous as it may seem.  For all the talk of students and how to cope with exam stress during those all important exams and that revision stage, it’s hard to imagine anyone else even coming close to that particular level.

Of course, I think it would be unreasonable to say that there’s no-one else involved… Yes, parents could possibly find themselves somewhat stressed out too.  It’s a simple fact of life that parents do worry about their kids and of course said stress might be somewhat greater during that exam time.

Students didn’t think they’d be entirely on their own, did they?

Perhaps the immediate reason why parents might feel so stressed is simply because of the stress revision causes for students.  Not only does it perhaps cause some distress for students, but it can also have a certain impact on family life.

  • Certainly from my experience, my need to revise for exams meant that I couldn’t quite complete all of my household chores.  The withdrawal you experience from your obligations can easily cause tension – parents might not immediately realise why.
  • The somewhat more… what’s the word… persuasive parents out there might encourage their kids to really knuckle down for long periods of time and make some real progress.  A more interventionist approach might not be met with the same enthusiasm from a student, easily causing some potential rifts in family life.  All of this is going to cause that parental stress.
  • A lack of a kid’s freedom if they feel they need to get in and revise (or if they interventionist parents have anything to do with it) is potentially going to cause added tension.  Indeed, some of the more proactive learners out there might feel the need to take time out of family occasions… You can imagine opinion will be divided.

The long hard slog with exams can last for several months and so over time the tension within a household can gradually rise.  Of course, many to think of the end results and the exam results day, when it’s all forgotten – you could even be smiling inside thinking about the moment when you run out of the exam hall for the last time.

Even then, it can be rather difficult – for the time being it seems like it’s rather rotten and all the stress will never pay off.  However, parents need not give up.  If you have a child who is well-motivated to get what they went the end should be worth the price you paid.  With that in mind, here’s a few small tips that you could use to keep yourself together as a parent and keep the family running smoothly.

  1. Be careful with the amount of encouragement you give – Safe to say that you want your kids to do well… but you won’t want to smother them.  The encouragement you give will almost certainly be well-received, but there comes a point where anyone would seem overbearing.  Try to keep it reasonable and don’t let the encouragement turn into dictating what needs to happen.
  2. Make sure they stick to their goals and targets, not yours – Give the plan the once-over to make sure that their revision timetable seems reasonable, but remember that they’ll have planned things out and probably won’t want too much interference.  If you try and force a certain regime, it might not work so well for them, thus increasing everyone’s stresses.
    Ensuring that they keep up with what they want to achieve is something that will ensure success that they can relate to personally.  Keeping to your plans and targets doesn’t give a sense of independence so much.
  3. Try and plan some family time together that doesn’t involve revision – spending time together will give them a break.  It will help you understand how they’re feeling and what sort of progress they’re making, all whilst taking the time to relax and keep things very much ‘revision free.’  In order to do that you’ll have to sit down with you child and see what they are doing and when so that it’s all easily arranged and doesn’t feel like too much of an intrusion into their lives.
  4. Try to keep calm and trust their instincts – The ideal thing to be doing is to remember that they’ll be stressed too – they’ll have their own coping strategies and ways of ensuring that everything goes to plan.  Try not to interfere with that and remember that they will get through everything eventually.  At least that’s the theory…
  5. Be supportive if things begin to go wrong – Obviously there will be times when they feel like things are going wrong, which is where you can reassure your kid.  However, if things are genuinely beginning to go wrong, then you will perhaps need to tread carefully and ensure that they know what they’re working towards.

I know this all seems like a set of tips to keep you child calm and make sure that things all stay together in their world.. but you’ll never believe how much this can help you as a parent.  Knowing that things are running as smoothly as possible will, believe it or not, keep you as a parent calm and stress-free.  Even if there’s a bit of stress, knowing that you’re doing everything to support your kids through this time without causing too much worry in them that you’re looking over them all the time serves as a comfort to your child – the lack of real stress will be helpful in the long run.

Remarkably, the key to all this is in fact ensuring that your child is well-supported but with the freedom to run their own show.  Ensuring therefore that you get some time as a family to relax and some time to take some time off themselves is really very important.

Yes, stress is always going to get to people in some way or form.  However, managing that in the household and creating a suitable environment is going to be immensely powerful.  In the meantime, try not to panic!




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Laura is a Francophile with a passion for literature and linguistics. She also loves skiing, cooking and painting.