The scary truth is that we are not always helpful

Exam results day. A day that bring stress or elation in a matter of moments. A day that means as much to you as a parent / guardian as it does to the person you care for. Our need to strive for our children and give them every opportunity for success is often ingrained in us as parents. It largely means that parents of children about to get their GCSE or A Level results are on complete tender hooks as they nervously await what they potentially perceive to be the fruition of all their parenting efforts to date.

We are often the reason our children are stressing out

The awful truth is that as parents, we are often the reason our children are stressing out, fearful of failure and catastrophising about not getting the exam results we think they need.

As parents, the pressure we put on ourselves by pushing our children to work longer, work harder and strive for perfection, whilst constantly comparing the success rate with others means we have inadvertently build up an expectation for  A* results despite the costs to our own and our children’s wellbeing.

There was a time when C grades were good, but not nowadays we want it all, the ‘sports achiever’, the ‘social butterfly’ and the academic grades of a scientist all rolled into one. We forget to take a step back and put things into perspective – isn’t having a well-rounded, happy child the most amazing achievement a parent can gain?

So how do we get the right balance on exam results day?
  1. If those results aren’t what was expected, avoid blame and accusations and move the focus away from your concerns and towards what can be influenced and controlled moving forward. What other opportunities or alternatives could there be?
  2. Make sure you are not living your life through them – what do they REALLY want to do? What gets them excited?  What are they good at? Not all children know what they want to do later in life and this is ok as we are all a work in progress. 
  3. Avoid self-limiting beliefs in both you and your child.Understand the three types of unhelpful beliefs we hold and talk through your assumptions and perceptions.
My experience, for what it is worth

Having been through this last year, I can tell you that straight A’s don’t always happen. After all my worrying, sleepless nights and arguments with his dad, my son has now gone down a very different path, his own path rather than the path we were inadvertently pressuring him to go down. University went out the window and he’s now doing an apprenticeship.

If you had told me a few years ago that I would be ok with this, I wouldn’t have believed you! Wrongly or rightly, university was always my dream for him but listening to him and supporting him with what HE wanted to do has proved to be the best decision yet! A lot of the pressure has been taken away, and surprise surprise he is thriving and doing better than ever.

Being a parent is the hardest job in the world, we have no training & no manual; pick your battles and keep the communication open, and remember this pressure is far different to what we went through at their age.

Exam results day. If I could do it all again? I’d tackle it differently, I’d be kinder to myself and him, more supportive than judgemental and definitely be pleased with C’s not just the A’s.