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Exam Stress: What can a parent do?

20 May 2019

It’s that time of year where your teen will be feeling the pressure of their upcoming exams. GCSE students, in particular, may have to sit 28 exams in the space of a two- or three-week period. With both the weight of revision and the pressure to achieve good grades, it’s no surprise that many teenagers struggle to cope. According to Childline, they delivered 3,135 counselling sessions on exam stress in 2017/18 – with a fifth of these taking place in May. 

For parents, the greatest battle is containing their own concerns while continuing to be encouraging. Educational psychologist, Teresa Bliss, points out that exam stress is a real feature of teenagers’ lives, and that parents and teachers have to be careful not to exacerbate it. 

We delve into just some of the ways you can ease your child’s stress:

Take a break, take….

Regular Breaks! Ensure your teen takes breaks from their desk, so they don’t become overwhelmed. After a certain amount of time our brains start to wander off. It is advised to take a short 5-10-minute break after a 30/60 minutes revision session. 

Keep a stocked fridge!

Encourage your teens to eat “brainy” food including meat, fish, eggs, fruit and nuts. Some students may either end up forgetting to eat or eating too many sugary foods which can be counter-productive. A healthy diet will help them concentrate better and boost brain power. Urge them to keep caffeine to a minimum.  

Take Time to Log Off

Phones have become a prominent part of our everyday lives, but this has become a double-edged sword for some.  Smartphones have become an addiction that can impact us negatively; fuelling anxiety, stress and concentration.  According to Ofcom, the average person checks their phone every 12 minutes – which can really affect your child’s ability to focus on revision. To tackle this, it might be worth talking to your teen about the advantages of limited screen time. 

Ensure they get some ZZZ’s 


When it comes to exams, there’s no better revision aid than a good night’s sleep. It is scientifically proven to play a keep role in memory retention. The worst thing your teen can do is to engage in all-night cramming! It can also be tough to wind down after revising, which can mean lying awake all night. Encourage them to take some time out before bed to read a book, listen to relaxing music or have a bath.