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Call us on: 07733 274 522

So exam season is in full swing

This means that, right across the country, young people are, at this precise moment, under the most extreme pressure imaginable.

The resulting stresses and strains have been much discussed in the media in recent times.

This is good and bad.

Good in that talking about such problems is always the all-important first step to solving them.

Bad in that the discussion is taking place because exam stress has reached levels never before experienced.

One leading head teacher has, in recent days, admitted his pupils are facing ‘the worst pressure in generations’. The result, he said, is an increase in eating disorders, self-harm and other associated issues. It is a scenario being played out up and down the UK.

Be it the exam system itself or parents best described as pushy, young people are getting it from all sides.

Pressure to perform. Pressure to succeed. Pressure to excel. Such pressure can be crushing. From time to time, the pressure gets too much.

The NSPCC put this into perspective a little earlier this month, announcing that ChildLine has experienced a 200% rise in requests for counselling in specific regard to exam stress.

In 2013/14, more than 34,000 phone calls (and a further 87,500 website visits) were logged, this a record number, with issues including revision pressures, workload concerns and problems with teachers and parents high on the agenda.

One teenager told an advisor, ‘I’m about to take GCSEs and I’m under so much pressure as my parents are expecting me to do really well. I’m going to revision classes, and I’m trying really hard, but I feel as though it isn’t good enough for them. I’m never allowed to do anything else apart from revision and if I ever try to talk to them [about this] it always ends up in an argument.’

From experience, we know that this isn’t uncommon. This is the kind of thing we’ve heard before.

Pressure – and the resulting stress – is natural.

It’s inevitable at such times.

It can – to a certain extent – be useful, acting as a motivating factor that can help to raise performance and lead to improved results.

But the line is a fine one and, as parents (and indeed, as educators and as a society in general), we must take great care not to cross it by loading our hopes and expectations onto shoulders that are already starting to buckle.

The fact that it is exam season is pressure enough.

Young people don’t need anything else to add to their concerns.

Guidance. Encouragement. Support. Understanding. These are the things that are needed at times such as these.

Someone to talk to. To lend an ear. To offer a shoulder.

To reassure and to coax. Not to demand and to pressurise, no matter how well-intentioned such things might be.

Exam season is in full swing. Young people are under immense pressure.

Let’s not make it worse for them.

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