What makes us stress when our teenagers write exams? What do we say to ourselves?

  • How do we help them when they are stressing?
  • They are stressing too much about these exams and it is getting in the way of their studying
  • What do we do when they are not settling down to study or getting distracted
  • What happens if they don’t do well enough in their exams, it could impact their future
  • They don’t realise how important these exams are


Is our role to motivate them and get them to study? Do we want to make it easier for them? This can leave us feeling helpless because we don’t have control of that and THAT is what causes our stress. We can’t fix it or make it easier. The answer is to get clarity on what we can do. When we are doing what we can and measure ourselves based on this and not on how well they are doing we get our sense of peace.

So what can we do?

We can facilitate our teenager’s perceptions about writing exams. When they have an effective perception about their exams this will ease their stress too. Exams aren’t meant to be easy or comfortable. They are there to develop their character and perseverance.  Stress comes from thinking that it should be easier and we wish they were even though it isn’t. While passing or doing well in exams is important, what is also important is who they become and the skills they develop. Teach them that growth and learning gets them to what they want in life. That pushing through when they don’t feel like it is a good muscle to develop and will help them in business one day. It builds their sense of self that is not attached to the result.

I remember when my son was writing prelims and even in matric, he focussed on his ability to push through more than on the result. As a result he did well, but the biggest reward was when he got to university and the pressure was far greater he was able to cope and he knew within himself he had the ability to do so.

Our role as parents is not to make it easier for them or to find a solution, it is to be there for them during their growth. When we stop trying to take responsibility to help them and give them the freedom and acceptance for them to be uncomfortable and find their own solutions, not only does it relieve our stress but it empowers them in their lives too.

In the next blog I will be talking about how to set boundaries when they take their exam stress out on us and how that impacts the rest of the family

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