The NSPCC, a charity that campaigns to protect and safeguard the children of the United Kingdom, last year released figures regarding the number of children seeking counselling about exam results; as the stress of GCSE and A-Level exams creep up around this time of year.
ChildLine conducted 3,077 counselling sessions in response to stress that can be caused by exams. The results had revealed a 9% increase from the year before, as well as 20% rise of concerns about the results themselves, in which ChildLine operated 1,127 counselling sessions compared to 2014-15. In the year 2015-16, ChildLine held a staggering 937 more sessions about the anxiety of exam results, indicating the stress and emotional repercussions of exams, which is a continuing worry for Britain’s children.
It’s of no surprise that children are increasingly seeking the help and assistance of counsellors and psychologists during an extremely busy, overwhelming and stress-induced period. Some of the major themes which crept up from the sessions revealed that children were afraid of disappointing their parents, a key contributor for post-exam stress and anxiety. Other themes included a fear of failing (both literally and metaphorically). Children expressed a worry that they could have always done better, letting their grades get the better of them. And in more general terms, there are pressures related to academic achievement and for school leavers doing A-Levels, this comes in the form of meeting university offers.
In a statement by Peter Wanless, the Chief Executive of NSPCC, he comments on the findings from 2016 that:
“Young people can feel stressed and anxious during exam season which is reflected in the increase in counselling sessions delivered by ChildLine at this time of year. Young people may feel worried or be panicking about revision and exam results but we want to let them know that ChildLine is here to listen however they choose to get in touch. ChildLine also has advice for parents and careers to help ease young people’s exam stress and anxieties during the revision period.”
Lauren, from fear-busters has helped many teenagers experiencing the same anxiety recognized by the NSPCC. One parent went to her, asking for help regarding her son.
‘My 16-year son had suffered silently for two years with anxiety until it reached breaking point after his GCSEs. I was initially at a loss as to what to do to help him as the GP couldn’t help as the therapy on offer was for 18-year-olds or for teens that are in a much darker place than my son. Having read other people’s glowing references about Lauren she was the obvious next step for me. I knew nothing about EFT but I did know that she had helped a good friend of mine’s daughter and this friend urged me to take my son to her.
He had three sessions where he was given the tools to deal with his anxiety as well as try, as best he could, to identify the cause and then move to a place in his head where he could deal with the negative thoughts and move them on swiftly, leaving him in a happy place.
I cannot believe the change in him over such a short space of time. We had a deadline to achieve this happy place and Lauren got us there. I also liked the fact that the procedure is totally non evasive and that my son can put into practice the tools he has learnt anytime he feels the need. Thank you, Lauren!!’
It is clear that the summer term at school is a difficult one for children, parents and the teachers. Tests and exams are a challenging part of growing up, and for some children, exam-related stress and anxiety is even more difficult to overcome.
Here are some of the common signs of stress:
You worry a lot
Constantly feel tense
You get lots of headaches and perhaps stomach cramps
You sleep very badly and you are restless
Your mood changes and you find yourself irritable
You have a suppressed appetite
You are negative toward your future
You may be over-eating to compensate
You don’t want to be anything you used to enjoy doing
Fear-Busters has helped one client in particular, whose daughter was experiencing stress from exams. She has commented:
‘My ten-year-old daughter was seeing Lauren for help with a number of issues such as eczema, moodiness, dog phobia and a milk allergy…… Whilst all of these things were dealt with successfully to my intense thankfulness there has been a blessed added bonus! My daughter’s performance at school has improved dramatically!! She tackles her homework with zest and is getting full marks on her tests. Her concentration levels have improved dramatically as well! I can’t thank Lauren enough for helping us in so many ways! Nothing is too hard for her to tackle and she does so in her calm quiet manor making every visit to her so pleasant. Thanks Lauren.’
If you do find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms of anxiety and stress from your exams and impending results, here are some top tips to parents from NSPCC:
Encourage your child to get out of the house, see friends, and do activities that will take their mind off exams
Talk about what the future holds – ease them through their decisions
Talk to other parents and the parents of your child’s friends to understand how to help
Don’t place any unnecessary pressure on your child if they do not meet expectations or grades
Reassure them constantly that there’s always another option and it’s never the end of the world
Be flexible with household chores, so your child doesn’t feel bombarded
If you notice they are really struggling, speak to them in a casual manor, do not frighten them. If the problem persists, recommend seeing your GP and or counsellor for added support.