• Cai Graham

TEEN Exam Stress - How can you help?

Updated: May 15



It’s Spring-time, the sun is shining and that means only one thing – EXAMS.


Families across the land are battening down the hatches and bracing themselves for a rocky ride!


Understandably so:


A recent study found that 94% of secondary school children and 76% of primary school children have developed stress related illnesses around SATs and exams. (N.U.T.)


So, not only do parents feel compelled to make sure their little angels are applying themselves academically - but they have to ensure that they are “happy” in the process!

How Parents can support their children during exams


The secret is, maintaining a calm and harmonious atmosphere at home – whilst giving your child the opportunity to thrive.


By now your child should have been taught all they need to know at school; so the next step is in installing healthy study habits and mindset techniques at home that will help them weather this ‘storm’.

The majority of exam associated stresses relate to when a child is feeling overwhelmed or demotivated. Therefore minimising these pressures will impact how your child tackles both revision and exams. Success in this arena will help create calm and clarity and in turn build confidence.

Practical support tips for Parents

  1. Maintain Perspective - Grades are important - but so too is mental health. A happy student performs better.

  2. Talk - Open up the conversation and validate their feelings. You don’t have to have all the answers - but being listened to always helps

  3. Quality Not Quantity - 3 hours of productive study with regular breaks is better than a fruitless 6 hour slog.

  4. Let Them Sleep - A teenager needs 9/10 hours sleep a night (adults only require 7). Sleep helps the brain function properly. Sleeping in is not lazy - it’s biology!

Good study habits for Students

  1. Eat Your Toad - Get the ‘worst’ task done first and the rest of the day will be a doddle!

  2. Find a Study Buddy - When we are accountable to others - we are more productive.

  3. Set Daily Study Goals - Be specific. (e.g: Learning Simultaneous Equations targets the brain better than “Do 2 hours of maths”)

  4. What’s your routine? - Where there is consistency - there is often less resistance.



Reducing anxiety levels


Even the best laid plans …

There will still be some anxieties and wobbles throughout the revision and exam period.


Breath-work is hands down the fastest way to reduce these stresses and worries. Try telling a child having a meltdown to calm down … it doesn’t work!


BOX Breathing is a great technique to calm the mind.

  • Think of a square/box

  • Breathe slowly.

  • Top: INHALE for four

  • Pause

  • Side: EXHALE for four

  • Pause

  • Bottom: INHALE for four

  • Pause

  • Side: EXHALE for four

This exercise can be done anywhere and within a couple of minutes the chaos in the head starts to settle.


Practice this. Build the muscle memory and you will soon develop a go-to coping strategy for those moments when your start to panic.


Above all, remember there is no such thing as failure - only feedback!

You always have options.

Good Luck!

This blog was written by Cai Graham is a Parent & TEEN Coach.

She is a Podcaster and Best-selling Author of The TEEN Toolbox.

Useful links for Exam Stress :

Find Your Study Spark : www.caigraham.com/get-motivated

Time Management Skills : www.caigraham.com/brain-dumping

Box Breathing : www.caigraham.com/boxbreathing


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