I’m the lucky parent to a teenager (don’t scoff, some of you baby mummy and daddies will be here too one day) and as I’ve said many times before, bringing up a teenager is tough. Where my safety worries were once confined to determining the correct size of a grape & teaching road safety, I now find myself caught up in the giddy world of spots, safe sex & exam stress. It’s scary stuff I’m telling you. Scary, scary stuff.
As a teenager, I always pictured myself being a cool, carefree mum that let their kids make their own choices & never interfered with school work or friendship choices. That philosophy changed virtually the day after I found myself on the other side of the fence and became a real life parent.
In reality, teenagers need as much support, guidance and coercion than toddlers. What no one warns you about is that while their brains go through a massive pruning process that leaves them unable to do things that we, as adults, find relatively easy.
Unfortunately teenagers don’t always see the bigger picture, not all are like this, I’m not generalizing every teenager, just my own experience in parenting one and being one. They can, at times, make the wrong life choices, like playing the Xbox for 6 hours straight instead of completing their homework or being influenced into doing things that could prove dangerous, like drink, drugs or showing off immature driving skills. (Not had the pleasure of those 3 yet, luckily)
Scary stuff, like I said.
And while I’m not being a helicopter parent, I am keeping a watchful eye. I issue constant homework reminders and bed time ‘suggestions’ (usually via Facebook messenger as you can see if they’re online when they should be asleep!) I will say that safeguarding your teenager should never be undervalued. It’s how you do it though that makes the difference to how successful you are.
So when it comes to exam times, teenagers are under considerable stress, whether they put pressure on themselves or if parents and teachers are doing it and this is not great for their mental or physical health. As a parent there are a few things you can do such as;
- making sure they are eating properly, no one learns anything on an empty stomach. healthy breakfasts in the morning and sending them to school with snacks will get them of to a good start. Vitamin supplements are always a good idea too and and good quality ones, like these Teen Boy vitamins from Wild Nutrition which my don takes are specially tailored for the extra nutrients they need while their bodies are still developing.
- making time for them to talk and offload,
- encouraging them to get lots of fresh air and take breaks if they are cramming in revision,
- Helping them see the bigger picture (what you put in you’ll get out.) and how there is light at the end of the tunnel.
- Letting them off some of their chores
- and keeping the house as distraction and noise free as you possibly can.
- I even helped tidy my son’s room and rearranged his revision notes into subject piles so he can access the right information without ploughing through a mass of stray bits of paper and books.
- Printing the timetable out and putting it on the fridge, with seat number and room helps you know which subject is coming up.
- And remembering to leave any negativity and nagging to weekends. The worst thing you can do as they leave the house in the morning is to tell them off for leaving the milk out. They really don’t want to be worrying or cross.
- Try creating a learning rich environment, allow them to put mind maps, revision notes around the house – on the bathroom mirror, the fridge and the bedroom door. There are even aromatherapy oils you can burn or sprinkle on a tissue to leave in their pocket which help calm nerves and aid concentration, Frankincense and rosewood are 2 I’m using. (this blog post will tell you more)
I remember all too well cramming in revision for my Degree, living and breathing mind maps, scribbled notes and spider charts. It’s such an important time of their life right now so making everything else at home a little easier for them is the least you can do.