1. Fostering independence
Teaching our children how to manage their own schedule during exams is the best skill you can give them. Allow them to try their own way. And the younger they are the better. In the beginning, you can let them work off their exam timetable and set a plan for a day. Go through the plan with them, let them try it for a day and then help them to access how well their plan is working by how confident they feel about it. Allow them to not get it right the first time by not judging them. When they learn by their own feeling of dissatisfaction, the learning is more impactful than when we are telling them. Encourage them to notice when they lose concentration and how often they need to take breaks. When they make their own plans and start to listen to themselves it builds their confidence and sense of control. This results in more effective learning.
What about the conversation in OUR heads:
What if they fail? What if they mess around? They are too young – we need to hold them accountable
2. Holding them accountable
When they are setting their own plans they need to be held accountable. Set up an agreement frame with them about what the consequences are if they do not follow through. Always follow through on consequences! Our focus in communication needs to be on developing their ability to set plans and push through. Ask them questions: What stopped you? What can you do next time? How does this feel, really?
When we allow them to make mistakes when they are younger and rectify them, it develops their self-management. This is uncomfortable for us as parents in the moment because often we are results driven. It is also often easier for us to just manage it for them but in the long run, developing their self-management is more beneficial. Not only does it develop confidence in them, but do you really want to be managing their schedules when they are teenagers? Start early when the stakes aren’t as high.
What stops us from holding them accountable?
Taking care of ourselves is the most important part of parenting. When we are tired and stressed, that is often the time we do not follow through. The best support you can give your child is to take care of your own emotional state so that it does not impact the way you interact with them during exam times
3. Showing that you believe in them
Do you believe in them? When we believe in our children it provides them with a sense of safety and a foundation for them to step up and try. Do they have to get it right every time for you to believe in them? If we measure our belief in them based on their intent rather than their result this gives them the opportunity to start developing their belief in themselves. Even if they have messed up in the past, always give them another opportunity to try. (Just ensure boundaries are in place and followed through)
4. Connect with your child
Take time to connect with your child during exams. It is easy to get caught up in just talking about exams and schedules and what has to happen that we forget to truly connect. It can be quick and simple. Give them a hug, tell them you love them, look into their eyes and acknowledge that everything will be ok. Ask them what they need to feel supported as long as it is not taking responsibility for their learning and planning
Exam time is a good opportunity to develop your child’s character. When your child is an adult the marks he achieved in primary school is far less important than his ability to believe in himself and push through discomfort to achieve what he wants. That is where our focus needs to be as we facilitate them through their exams.
It is not always easy to implement these ideas. That is where I can support you. What do you struggle with most during exam time? Contact me, I can help. Even if you have a small niggle, addressing it sooner can avoid a big problem later.
Contact Gail to book a coaching session