We can take control and plan for our own lives but at what point do we stand back and let our children take control and plan their own lives?
As we hurtle into the exam season door-slamming, tantrums, and sleepless nights are all too common in many UK homes – with teenagers, parents and teachers all sharing the pain.
Post-it notes and revision diagrams are plastered on the walls of some teenagers’ bedrooms, while others are turning to new technology to help them revise, including apps and consulting their friends over skype much to the disapproval of some parents.
But what are the “dos and don’ts” for parents who want to help their children do their best without adding to their problems and stoking their stress?
Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts says: “Revision time can wreak havoc in a family house – stress levels are high, coffee mugs accumulate, and anxious parents grow ever watchful.
“It’s difficult to get the right balance, but on the whole Mumsnetters advise parents to exercise patience – take the pressure off, stock the snack-cupboards and offer much-welcomed tea breaks.”
Consultant educational psychologist Vivian Hill says “young people have a variety of ways of revising, and stress in the home is often increased when parents fail to understand that.
“Each child will have a different style or approach to learning, some will have revision notes highlighted with coloured pens, others might use audio tape and some learn better interactively, working with a friend.
“It’s important to find out what works for them. This can lead to conflict. For example, some people find it easier to revise with music or the TV on in the background and some parents think it should be turned off. Some want to study all night long and parents might want lights out at 10:00. Some people are very fortunate in that they are doing what looks like half-hearted preparation but it is very effective.”
There is a risk that if you interfere too much, you might increase the stress on them even more. We must remember that most of the groundwork and preparation for exams is done in schools.
This is possibly one of the most difficult teenage times and parents need to be patient, bite their tongues and expect their children to be more difficult than normal because they are stressed. Try not to increase the pressure by saying things like, ‘It’s your one-and-only-chance,’ it’s far better to say ‘Don’t worry, just try to do your best.'”
What we fail to think about pre exams is that the real pain for parents occurs post exams. Rather than trying to control how our children revise we should instead be focusing on how we are going to fund the next phase in their lives be it college costs, university costs or simply supporting them.