1. In the run-up to results day
Your child may feel nervous and stressed in the week before results day. This may lead to difficulty sleeping, irritability, loss of appetite and anxiety or panic attacks. It’s really important that they can talk to family and friends about their worries and concerns. They may feel under pressure to achieve certain grades or meet other’s expectations of them. Reassure them of your support whatever their grades are.
2. The week before results day
Talk to your child in the week before the results come in to anticipate how you may both cope with good or not so good news. Emphasise that they have your support and that you are proud of them even if the results aren’t what they expect. There is always a way forward for them, they just might not be taking the route that they had planned. It’s a good idea to talk about Plan B and what this could look like. This way, your child will be less anxious about the future because they can start to see that there is a way forward.
3a. On the day – and they are happy with their results.
If you’re there, make sure that their success is recognised and celebrated. If you can’t be there, check who will be around for them – other family members, friends, school? Recognising their achievements will help them feel good about themselves and inspire them into the next steps for their future. Make sure they take a breather before they embark on their next step of more learning, studying and exam taking.
3b. On the day – and they are disappointed with their grades.
If your child is disappointed with their results, they will need your support. They may be angry and tearful and want to be alone. Acknowledge this and allow them space, but also let them know you are there unconditionally to help them through the disappointment. Your child may be full of regret, constantly replaying what they did wrong or didn’t do right. These responses are natural and it’s important to recognise them and gently start to talk about options. Don’t rush into decisions for them – allow them time to process and think, and then Plan B can come into force.
Importantly, do recognise the work they did do and the achievements they have got, even if they aren’t as high as they wanted. Encourage them to think about how they can learn from the experience and what they can do differently.
4. Put everything in perspective
No matter whether the exam results were good or disappointing, life goes on. It can be all consuming at the time, but it is important to put things in perspective and remind yourself and your child of all the important people, achievements and qualities in their lives. Once you are through this period, take a deep breath and get ready to support your child onto their next step.
If you or your child needs further support, contact westend counselling.
There is further information from Family Lives on supporting your child through the exam results period.