7 Ways To Help Your Teenager Manage Exam Stress

The stress of formal exams is a tricky one to negotiate for both teenagers and their parents: The stress of doing well, the stress of what will happen afterwards and the stress of what to do with their lives in the future can all take its toll. I actually think our teenagers have many stresses  that they have to deal with and it seems to be much more than I remember as a teenager growing up in the 1980’s.

I know a little about exam stress as one of my children has A’Levels this summer whilst the other has GCSE’s! Obviously, with a two year gap between my children, I knew this day would come but it seems to have rushed towards us since September!  I worry about them as any parent would and want to help them as much as possible so, here are my top tips for managingexam stress at this time in their lives.

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Should you leave your teenager alone overnight?

It’s my birthday tomorrow and the hubbie and I are off out and are staying over at a posh hotel. We have never left both teenagers alone overnight before. Whenever we go anywhere, they, or our youngest, have always come too. I know that my daughter is 18 in a few months so she is definitely old, mature and sensible enough. Legally, there is no definite age that children can be left overnight. It is all pretty confusing actually but the NSPCC state that no child should be left alone overnight under the age of 16. I agree with this as if there was an emergency, can you fully trust your child to know what to do? I’m not sure my youngest would, although he is very mature for his age in many respects. No, my worry is not that they won’t cope. My worry is that I don’t quite trust them or should I say, I don’t quite trust the teenager in them! My youngest has already asked if he can have a party, a few friends over, his girlfriend to stay…..

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Could our children be anxious because of us?

There seems to be more children with anxiety in our society than ever before. This is something that I have been reading quite a bit about recently and the facts are quite staggering. In fact the research shows that as many as one in six young people in the UK suffer from anxiety. To look it another way, one in five teenagers in an average class will be suffering from anxiety (anxiety.org.uk). This is a frightening statistic frankly and it got me thinking about why this is happening.  As a mum, I know that there are many pressure of our teenagers which I have written about Here.
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How to survive teen driving lessons in 5 easy steps.

Driving home from school the other day and my 17-year-old tells me that I have my hands at the wrong position on the wheel! What?? In fact, after a few driving lessons she is often pointing out various things I’m doing that are technically “wrong.” I remember doing this exact thing with my mum. I feel officially old!
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What do I miss?

I have amazing children who are now almost grown. I started this blog because I found that although I was working part time, I finally had time to do something else. My parenting days are far from over but my teenagers just don’t physically need me as much and it happened quite suddenly. It crept up on me when I found myself alone one Saturday afternoon enjoying a cup of tea and realised that I didn’t need to be anywhere! It got me thinking about all the things that used to drive me nuts that I was actually now missing. It’s as if my “parenting routines comfort blanket” has been removed and I am now thinking about how I should replace it. I’m feeling sad and possibly hormonal (ahh the menopausal brain) so bear with me but I miss my children being little….
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This stage in my life….having teens.

The internet is full of parenting advice or the ironic posts about needing gin at 4 o’clock and although I chuckle I do think, “you wait…..if you think parenting babies and small children is tricky wait until they become teens!” Don’t get me wrong, babies and toddlers are physically exhausting and I couldn’t wait until 7pm when they were tucked up in bed and I could be an adult again. The thing is, and I’m sure other parents feel like me, that I miss that stage…..
I miss the rosy beams at 6am (yes, really!) when they see you first thing in the morning. I miss the snuggles when you read a bedtime story together with Upsey Daisy and Iggle Piggle. I miss the cheeky grin when they have hidden your keys. I miss the pure joy of their giggle when you flap the newspaper and play Peek-a-boo. I even miss having to do that jigsaw for the tenth time that day. It was so predictable but safe almost. The routine was monotonous at times but also comforting. I suppose it’s like any stage of being a parent; it comes to an end and before you know it you’re into the next stage and you never even realised.
Let me tell you a little about the stage I’m in now with my children…..

  • Being a taxi. 

I’m always in the car. We make sure that our kids have hobbies when they are younger don’t we? Tennis, Scouts, football, ballet. Children these days are encouraged to try everything; it’s a very middle-class thing. We encourage them, rightly so, to try lots of different things. The difficulty is that now they are teens the hobbies become quite annoying. I have renamed myself “Taximum” and I’m sure many other parents can relate. My son is a keen hockey player and although I am naturally proud of him, the better he gets the further we end up driving him. Hours in the car to wait for a few hours and then to drive home again. And then there is my older teen who goes “out”. The problem is she wants to be picked up again and there is never a bus after 9pm in the country. Until she learns to drive that means waiting outside places in the middle of the night and when she gets into the car she doesn’t want you to talk to her even though you’ve driven to collect her at midnight.  So much for that gin at 4 o’clock.

  • Stuff

When we had toddlers and small children we had an area downstairs for all their toys. I remember at the end of the evening we would clear the children’s things away so that we could enjoy a quiet, adult conversation without being surrounded by toys that could be trodden or sat on. Well, teenagers stuff is a little different. Basically, there is no area for teenage stuff. It is everywhere. Pants, socks, earrings, various text books, make up, wet towels. We have tried to train our children to put their stuff in their room but they always seem to have an answer for why their school shirt is down the back of the sofa or there’s a makeup stain on the carpet. Stuff also equates to plates, cups and other kitchenware. Mugs are a favourite in the old house….they find themselves lost for months, only to be found under a bed.

  • Do NOT talk to them before school

My time in the car is a lonely one; even though I am not alone. Teens just don’t want a conversation in the mornings. “Do NOT speak to me!” They are not programmed to do anything before 10am so a lovely conversation in the car on the way to school is a no-no. I remember when they were younger and all the amazing questions they would ask and you think you have a genius child -“Why is the sky blue Mummy?” “Who invented the car Mummy?” I now know that was a stage and every child asks these types of questions because when they are teenagers they lose the ability to speak whilst on any type of journey.

  • You are old

I’m afraid this one is obvious. You, as their parent are old and therefore, know nothing. I remember the admiration when my children thought I knew everything. Now the looks are quite different when they realise I actually know nothing. I am especially old when I have lost the one hockey socks later to be found in my son’s bag. There is nothing to debate here I’m afraid!

  • Wifi

“Will there be Wifi?” This is common teenage phrase in the old house. As long as there is Wifi they will come with us to a friends, the shops, the hotel…… My advice is do not book a holiday in a hotel without Wifi when you have teenagers. Remember that flight that sounded like a good idea with your 20 month old because you didn’t have to pay for their seat? Well it’s like that…..just don’t bother really.  I’ve tried to be the parent that asks for all phones to be downstairs at bedtime but that never works. I remember once when my daughter had an iPad when she was about 12. I changed the settings so that she couldn’t go on the internet without adult supervision. I was quite pleased with my technological prowess. But what did she do? She just downloaded the google app….I didn’t even know this was possible! That’s because I am old apparently.

  • The joy, laughter and fun times

The above is true but, of course with these things comes seriously funny moments and fun times that I absolutely cherish. I wouldn’t change anything about my teens as they are actually great fun to be around.
I love the fact that we can all lie in bed on a Sunday and then go to have brunch together. I love the cinema trips when we can watch films other than Disney sing-a-longs. I love the debates about Trump or the state of One Direction. I love the things they find to share with me on YouTube.
I even like the Sex Ed chats…..my one advice here though is have Sex Ed chats in the car, preferably first thing in the morning……In this way they can’t escape. Oh and they also tend not to join in with the conversation!
I know that this stage in my parenting life will come to an end soon and I will miss it terribly so my advice to you all is, enjoy every stage.  It passes by in a blink of an eye. Whilst my daughter talks about university courses I look at her and can see her beaming face as a baby looking back at me.
Perhaps that’s why our mums look at us in the same way.

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