How can I help my teen with exam stress?

If you live in the UK and have a child in Year 11 or Year 13 you will have been through 1 or 2 rounds of mock exams by now. We’re coming to the end of the second set!

We can’t do the revision for them. Some parents have tried to get more involved in doing the work, but it won’t help in the long run.

If you would like to help your teen to make changes so they cope better with the final exams in the summer here are my top tips:

❤️ Listen to the podcast “Teenagers untangled”

This a great (award winning) podcast covering all aspect of parenting teens. I’d recommend you start with these episodes:

Episode 53 – Anxiety: How to help your teen

Episode 39 – Exam revision

Their website is also packed full of amazing blogs with loads of helpful insights that will help reduce exam stress or any tension between parents and teens.

🧡 Get your teen to take a learning styles quiz

Knowing how to learn is half the battle. There will be loads of quizzes online but we used this.

Learning styles were introduced to me at acupuncture college and it was revelatory. Classmates suddenly started drawing elaborate pictures for their learning and it became so much easier for them. As a visual learner, I admired their beautiful pictures and marvelled at what their brains could create, but it didn’t help me learn. Nicely laid out revision cards were my thing and I’d pace around memorising where the words were on the page and what colour to help me recall the facts!

Maybe your teen has been writing flash cards, but as a auditory learner they really need to be talking out loud, to themselves or others.

Effective revision will reduce exam stress because learning time will be more productive.

💛 Pay attention to sleep and nutrition

Focus on good quality protein with every meal and eating a rainbow of fruit and veg. Make it look interesting so they eat well. It’s even better if they help with the cooking!

A favourite in our house that ticks all the boxes is Chicken Fajita traybake.

This is perfect for teens as they can add as much, or as little, as they like of all the sides. You can alter the veg according to whatever you have left in the fridge, or whatever they prefer. Interactive meals that are put together at the table are more fun too!

Teens and sleep can go either way – too much or too little, just encourage healthy and regular sleep habits. No phones in the bedroom at night!

💚 Encourage them to exercise, get outside and have fun breaks

What do they enjoy?

Running, the gym, dancing or swimming with friends, football?

A walk with friends to the park or out for a hot chocolate.

It’s important to have distinction between down time and work time so they recognise it’s not just school, revision, sleep, repeat. Down time is essential to allow some creativity to flow and their brains to relax. I don’t believe anyone is productive when working 24/7.

💙 If conversations have become fraught, take a break

It doesn’t matter who’s right or what the disagreement is about. Once you start shouting or not listening (you or them) the point is redundant. Take a break and try again later.

💜 Book them a happy hour of acupuncture

Close up picture of ear with acupuncture needles inserted

With or without needles we can use acupuncture treatment to calm the nervous system, settle anxious feelings, and provide a bit of space to breath and think more clearly, which will lower the stress response and make revision more effective.

Learning which of the Five Elements is most out of balance for your teen may give some clues about how we can help them plan and carry out their revision successfully. Valuable life lessons they can carry beyond the exams!

I am an expert in treating stress and anxiety and started having acupuncture myself as a teenager. I know the transformative effect it can have and want to help the struggling teens out there to thrive rather than survive.

I’ve reserved slots in the Easter holidays for 1 hour initial appointments with teens and their parents. Starting treatment early will give plenty of time to make a difference to those teen brains before exams start in May.

Using TCM and Five Element acupuncture we will work together to balance the hormones and the emotions. With carefully chosen lifestyle advice teens can learn to understand and manage their emotional responses to the world so they can feel in control, empowered and grounded. Who wouldn’t love to feel like that?

March 13, 2024