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When things don’t go to plan..

It’s the season of exam results and my son will be amongst the thousands of students who will be receiving their GCSE results tomorrow. Talk about pressure! There is nothing more testing of a teen’s resilience than receiving a set of exam results which aren’t up to the exacting A* grades everyone is talking about.

Yet tomorrow there will be a significant number of teens feeling as though they’ve failed. The question is, what can we as parents do to help support them?  Here are my top tips:

1. Acknowledge their feelings
Whether you think your teen’s grades are amazing or not you need to acknowledge how the results make them feel, and encourage them to talk about it. A simple “I can see you are really disappointed with your grades; you had hoped for at least 3 A’s”, followed by “want to talk about it?” or “I’m here when you are ready to talk”

2. Set aside your own feelings
Sometimes as parents we can feel our children’s exam results in some way reflect how good our parenting is, or we get sucked into the whole comparison game. Try and remember it doesn’t matter how your teens results make you feel. You need to set aside your personal anger or disappointment if you are to help them move on constructively.

3. Don’t lecture
Now is not the time to give your teen a pep-talk on how they might have done better had they studied more, gone out less, spent less time with their friends etc. Trust me, your teen is already having those conversations with themselves and you will only alienate them if you go down this route.

4. Help them make a plan
If things have really gone totally pear-shaped then when the dust has well and truly settled, sit down with them and help them come up with a plan. You need to act as a coach here rather than a dictator; ask lots of questions, actively listen to their answers, and ask questions again. Your teen is much more likely to act on a plan they have made than one they have simply been told to follow.

Helping our teens cope constructively with disappointment, in my mind, is the most important skill we can pass down to our children.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

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