ChildLine report reveals exams top youngsters' concerns
Helpline offers advice to young people as exam pressures build
ChildLine is reminding young people in London that help is available if they feel anxious or worried about exams.
As exam season gets underway, ChildLine can reveal that for the first time ever, school and education problems emerged as a top concern among those contacting the helpline in 2013/14.
ChildLine carried out 34,454 counselling sessions mentioning school and education problems with a 200 per cent increase in counselling about exam stress specifically. There were also more than 87,500 visits to ChildLine’s webpage about the issue.
Not wanting to disappoint their parents, fear of failure and the general pressures linked to academic achievement are all major themes.
Helen Beattie, ChildLine service manager said: "The exam period can be a very stressful and anxious time for young people. As these figures reveal, the pressure to do well is being felt by an increasing number of young people across the country. We hear from lots of young people each year who are anxious, worried or panicking about their exams and revision. We want to let them know that they are not alone and that ChildLine is here to listen to them.”
Stresses about exams can affect young people’s ability to sleep, trigger anxiety attacks, depression and tearfulness, and eating disorders. In some cases it also led to self-harm and suicidal feelings, or can make them worse.
One teenage boy who spoke to a ChildLine counsellor said:
“I am about to take my GCSEs and I am under so much pressure as my parents are expecting me to do really well. I am going to revision classes and trying really hard but I feel like it is not good enough for them. My parents don't allow me to do anything else apart from revision and if I try and talk to them it always ends up in an argument.”
ChildLine is offering the following advice for students:
• Make sure you take regular breaks from revising and do some exercise.
• Go to bed at a reasonable time and try and get some sleep.
• Getting a good night’s sleep will help you much more than trying to revise all night – you will just end up very tired the next day.
• Try to think positively – even if you don’t feel like it, a positive attitude will help you during your revision.
• Take some water into the test with you, if you can. Keeping hydrated by drinking water will help you concentrate.
The ChildLine website has a special ‘Beat exam stress’ section for children and young people to visit. As well as calling ChildLine’s free confidential helpline on 0800 11 11 or visiting childline.org.uk, young people can also send emails to trained counsellors or receive support online via one-to-one chat.
ChildLine advice for parents and carers to help ease young people’s exam stress and anxieties during the revision period:
• Don’t place unnecessary pressure on your children to gain certain grades. They may feel they have failed if they don’t achieve what they thought was expected of them.
• Encourage children to take regular breaks, eat snacks and exercise.
• Help them revise by leaving them the space and time to do so.
• Be relaxed about chores or untidiness and understand they might be moody. Allow your children to revise at nights if that’s what works best for them however do make sure that they get enough sleep to keep their energy levels up in the day.
• Be supportive and help alleviate their worries by talking to them.
May 14, 2015