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  • Writer's pictureLloyd Ripley-Evans

Coping with your child's exams

Updated: May 19, 2020

Your role as a parent

As we approach the mid-year examinations, we need to take a moment to reflect on the year so far, and the role we are playing in our child/children’s lives. We consider what our role really is in relation to our children. I am certain that all of us can agree that in some way, we all want to help our children be the very best that they can be, to reach their potential, to achieve in some aspect of their schooling career, or something along those lines. As we reflect upon this, we need to seriously consider whether what we are helping our children achieve is the best for them, or the best for US. What are the expectations that we have for our children, as often these can be unrealistic or even misaligned from what a child is willing or able to achieve. These unrealistic expectations can place a significant amount of pressure on a child, adding to the already stressful and turbulent challenges which they face. As we reflect on this we can then begin to consider whether the support and guidance that we offer (whether unsolicited or not) is helping or hindering our children’s performance as we seem to face the same fights an challenges every year around exam time.

Multiple Roles

Sometimes as parents we need to be able to fulfill multiple roles in order to support and guide our children when they need it, however, it is necessary to remember that we do not need to feature as the following for our children as they have enough of these in their lives already:

  • Teacher

  • Critic

  • Policeman

  • PA

  • Study-buddy

  • Drill sergeant

Yes, at times our role as a parent may reflect some similar characteristics, but the frequency and intensity of the characteristics from the list above should be low. Rather let the individuals who are trained, experienced or employed for the various roles take on the tasks on a regular basis. This means that you will have more time for the important role of being a parent.

You are their parent, which means that throughout your day you will need to juggle between two crucial ‘hats’, one of “parent” and the other of “mom” or “dad”.

That first hat of “parent” refers to the critical role of disciplinarian that needs to play a key role daily. This role requires you to enforce the rules, implement consequences and be strict and firm with your child when needed. This is a relatively unemotional role due to the fact that our emotions complicate our actions and decisions, and most often our children know how to exploit our emotions. This hat should be put on for short periods, and only when necessary, to address negative behavior and enforce the structures, rules and consequences that have been agreed upon and implemented within your home.

The second hat of “mom” or “dad” is the emotional, loving and caring role that plays such a vital role in supporting, guiding and building up your child. It reinforces their characteristics and views about people and the world and ultimately helps shape them into the individuals that they will become. This role allows us to connect, build deep and meaningful relationships and teach those valuable lessons.

Considering these ‘hats’ we need to juggle, it makes sense that we should be the following for our children:

  • Role model

  • Supporter

  • Guide

  • Mirror

  • “Google”

  • Parent

Whose exams are they anyway?

The exams coming up are your children’s examinations, NOT yours. You have completed yours a while ago (not too long ago I am sure), and as such it is absolutely critical that it is your own children who do all the learning, studying and preparation of the exams as they are the ones who will be sitting in the exam room writing, not you. It is critical that you adopt this understanding early on so that your children learn to take responsibility for their learning, and the results of their efforts. If they don’t, who is more disappointed when the results are released, you or them? In preparing for examinations, we want to assist by helping to equip our children with the necessary skills required to learn, study, manage stress and achieve their goals.