It’s 10 p.m. at night and you know what’s about to happen. You sense that the mood is about to shift in your home. Your teenage daughter is stressed about end of semester exams and a melt down is just minutes away. Yep, here it comes…the tears, the drama, the no-win effort to calm her down. Are you ready to pull your hair out yet and long for the days of diapers?
It may be years since I graduated high school, but as a parent of a teen, exam hell is far from over! When my teen is suffering, I must suffer, too.
With three children, I have experienced both extremes of exam hell. You may have as well. Either you have the kid who doesn’t seem one bit concerned about the gravity of mid-term exams (but needs to be), or you have the teen who takes it so seriously that you actually start to worry. This is when parenting gets difficult.
How do you make a teen more concerned about his grades? How do you calm a teen who is so stressed she can’t sleep?
Here is what experts say we are not supposed to do:
- Say things like: “Shouldn’t you be studying?” or “You are getting way too crazy about exams!”
- Interfere with how they study. I know it’s hard to hold back but we’re not supposed to say, “How can you think with that music blasting?” (This one is going to be hard for me!) Apparently, some teens can study better with music or the TV on in the background.
- Nag them about what they are doing instead of studying.
- Bribe them with money to study
- Fight with them about their cell phone use. (This one is super hard for me. I hate when my son studies with his phone by his side. )
- Tell them to stop stressing (This has the opposite effect!)
Here is what we are supposed to do:
- Be lenient about chores, messy rooms and untidiness as much as possible.
- Give them a break and understand lost tempers and moodiness
- Encourage them to work hard for their own satisfaction, not just for the grade
- Schedule small rewards for the effort they are putting in or suggest a special evening out as a treat to look forward to when exams are over.
- Encourage them to put a single exam into perspective. The world is not going to end.
- Discourage cheating
- Encourage them to find some outlet to de-stress. (Maybe offer to talk a walk with your teen after a solid hour of studying?)
So if exam pressure is building in your household and a meltdown is moments away, give your teen a reassuring hug and try not to say much. Know that teenagers are programmed to overreact and rant to their parents. Take it from a mom who has been there…there is no easy way to navigate exam season. But then again, there is no easy way to parent a teen!