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Helping You with the Particular Anxieties of Exam Age Children

Rachel Melville Thomas from the Association of Child Psychotherapists answers your questions on how to advise and support exam age children about their uncertain future.

Your adolescent may be flooded with relief because they aren’t facing exams, or angry that their hard work may count for nothing.

You may notice that they are becoming more demotivated, sleeping longer hours and not completing online work. Teenagers often think in a very binary way – that they are either a success or a total failure.  They might be very anxious imagining that the rest of their life will be a total meltdown. It’s important to notice this, show you understand and keep them going as much as you can.

  • Reassure them that their tutors and teachers will be committed to helping them find a way forward. The support team is still there.
  • Remind them that the work they have done so far will NOT be wasted.   It is in their memories now, and if anything, can get stronger with more time to review later.
  • Give them some perspective – that many people (perhaps even in your own family?) have had exams interrupted for all sorts of reasons and have continued successfully on to happy and interesting lives and careers.
  • Talk about the ups and downs in your own life and how things moved on.
  • Their friends are going through the same thing – so let them talk it through with them. No one has a magic solution right now, but there will be time to get back on their journey.
  • Assure them that your love and approval is always there no matter what tests and exams they take.