Exam time is speeding its way towards many of our young adults, whether it's in the form of GCSE's, AS or A levels.
The rise in anxiety levels and stress is marked, not only for those studying, but for parents and other family members too. With mental health being widely spoken about, we are slowly becoming aware of how it can impact on our youngsters. Many of the young adults I see feel anxious, pressurised, invisible and scared about this time.
As parents we want the best for our children; however at times we need to recognise that sometimes we don't know what is best for them. Yet they do. For example, they may have said they want to be a Dr and have said this for many years, but there are some individuals who know this is what their parents either want them or expect them to be, (they may have picked up on the wishes and desires of the family), when actually they have ambitions and dreams to be something completely different.
They fear telling the parents, they fear rejection, that they have let them down by not wanting to become the Dr, they also feel that they will no longer be loveable or hold any value within the family, that they have failed.
Young people today know how much work they need to do, they know the impact of this - whether they do it or not, and the majority also know how to manage their work loads. Some just choose not too. Many feel suffocated by the constant checking up, lack of free time and pressure to always be studying. They are aware of the consequences (they receive these messages from school), and there comes a times when, as young adults they need to have the freedom to make these choices and live by the results. To feel trusted to make their own decisions and choices.
We cannot live their lives for them, and they need to be supported to make these, whether we approve of them or not. One of the roles of a parent is to prepare our children to become independent, functioning adults who are able to make choices and live by the consequences.
Some of the young people I work with tell me they feel they will let their parents down if they don't get the results their parents and schools are expecting them to achieve, that everything hinges on the envelope they open in August. Wow, so much pressure, whether this is actual or perceived, it is real for the individual.
So what can we do to help? Your young person wants and needs your love, support and encouragement, they need to know that you trust them to make the right choices, and believe that they are achieving to the best of their ability. There are, of course, some young people who do need to be reminded and given 'extra' encouragement to keep on task, remember the saying you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink - how frustrating and time consuming!
Every child is unique
Not every child is able to achieve an A*, there are many who need to feel valued achieving their best grade, that as long as they are able to put their hand on their heart and say they did the best they could, what more can anyone ask of them (or any of us - the majority of us try to achieve the best we can at the time, in the circumstances we find ourselves in, so why should it be any different for our children?)
If in August the results are not what were wanted, needed or expected, then the young person has still learned a valuable lesson, they have ownership of their results and future; (there should be no place for blame, recriminations or "I told you so.") Life doesn't end here, there are always different options available.
I am a counsellor who wants to empower individuals to be the best version of themselves.