Parents add to exam stress

Parents want their child to be happy and do well and try to give them everything they need to do their best. Siblings can tease and compare because they have a competitive nature or a very serious personality. Your child can experience your support as pressure just because that is how they make sense of what they are experiencing. All of this can add to your child’s exam stress that could make them under perform.

Where does the family’s expectations for your child come from

  • From cultural beliefs. Whether this is that boys should do well in Maths or that all girls should go into medicine, it’s often a generalisation that doesn’t take the individuality of the child into account.
  • From personal experiences. You can unconsciously try to push your child into the subject/career path that you feel is important or worthwhile.
  • From wanting to give your children opportunities that you never had. Some parents put a lot of pressure on their children to achieve what they couldn’t.
  • Comparing your child with a sibling, cousin or friend. This will make your child feel insecure and unloved.

What can I do to take away this additional pressure?

  • Understand why something is important to you. If it’s not because it’s really what your child wants, but because of another issue that you might have, try to resolve this with yourself first and give your child a breather.
  • Be clear and honest about your expectations and tell your child why you want them to, for example, get 70%.
  • Never compare your child with anyone else.
  • Make sure they know that you love them and feel proud of them regardless of their academic performance.
  • Tell them that you want what is best for them, but that you realise that include taking into account what they want to achieve. Have lots of open and honest conversations about this.
  • Make sure that you listen to their needs. Every child needs support but it might look different from what someone else needs.

Really listen to what your child is saying. You might want to read more about active listening tips here.