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Parent Handbook: 7 Ways To Keep Your Teen Motivated During Exams

4 min read

Do you remember those sleepless nights and nail-biting hours before any exams? Similar to a marathon, they often are an endurance test of body and mind, where anyone can often hit a ‘wall’ mid-way through. This is even more true for kids: how teenagers handle ‘the exam wall’ can make or break their performance, which is where your role as a parent comes in.

According to Forbes, too often, strategies that adults use to boost student achievement -such as raising academic standards and giving high-stakes standardized exams – do not address the real reasons why students are disengaged. Even the most dedicated teachers and parents may be sending messages that leave children believing they don’t have what it takes to succeed.

However, as with any skill, motivation can be encouraged — or discouraged — in children from an early age by the actions of important people in their lives. Studies suggest that students are more academically motivated when one of four conditions is present: when they feel competent enough to complete the task at hand; when they see a direct link between their actions and an outcome and have some control over whether or how to undertake a task; when the task has interest or value to them; and when completing the task brings social rewards, such as a sense of belonging to a group or approval from someone they care about.

MyTutor, the UK’s most trusted tutoring platform, has revealed 7 surefire ways to help your teenage kids to stay focussed and thrive. Now, it’s your turn to help them stay motivated and keep anxiety at bay.

Change their scenery

Encouraging your teen to switch up where they study can be a fun way to shake up their revision routine. Why not encourage them to treat themselves and their laptop to a day out at a favourite coffee shop? Saturday or Sunday mornings are usually quiet times, even if you live in the city. They could also listen to a YouTube revision video while on a sunny walk by the river or lying on a blanket in the park. And if they’ve been feeling lonely, suggest they study at a friend’s place. Whatever you decide–help them try something that feels new.

Encourage breaks to avoid burnout

If they’ve had a few late nights and early morning cramming sessions, they might start to feel burnt out. When stress levels stay high for longer than they should, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed and unmotivated. Remind them that it’s normal to feel this way.

The best thing they can do to avoid burnout is to take regular breaks. Encourage them to move their body around, and eat a healthy snack. Encourage them to do something that they enjoy–like listening to their favourite music or watching a film. Just make sure they’re switching off.

Tip: Why don’t you encourage them to get a Pomodoro focus timer APP on their phone. It tells them how long to study for, and when to take breaks.

Help them switch off

Some teens just can’t pull themselves away from revising and carry on till the last minute. If they want to keep working at it the night before their exam, make sure their revision is light. They can revise with flashcards, or look over cheat sheets. But practising a whole exam paper might be overkill and make them feel anxious instead of calm.

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When they’ve done all the studying they can do, they may just need to chill out. Whether that means watching their favourite show or practising some self-care encourage them to relax.

Give them lots of encouragement

Teens, like the rest of us, want to feel understood. So telling them that you know exams are hard will help them feel supported. Let them know you’re proud of all the work they’ve put into revising, too. And that no matter what happens, they should feel proud of what they’ve achieved. Have some fun with a mini celebration after each exam. A small treat like ice cream or a trip to the cinema can boost their mood.

Count down the days

It might sound too simple to work, but a countdown can be super motivating. If they haven’t already, make sure they get a calendar and circle the end of exams. Then tick off the days as they go. Even though it feels like it’s dragging on forever, They’ll see that the end to their stress is in sight!

Plan something to look forward to

A way to boost their motivation is to get some fun post-exam plans in their diary. It doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive – just something they’ll like doing. Maybe that’s spending a day at a Theme Park or just hanging out with their friends. Whatever they go for, make sure you find a way to celebrate the end of exams– they deserve it!

Make sure they get an early night

We all know that sleep is important, but we still stay up. To get a good night’s sleep, encourage your teen to stay off their screens for 1-2 hours before bed. And if they just can’t part with their phones, have them switch off the blue lights in their settings. They’ll know sleep is important before an exam, so they won’t put up a fight. But if they’re worried about tomorrow they might toss and turn all night. To help them relax and drift off, have them try meditation or listen to a sleep story.  

Wherever they are in their exam season journey, remind them that it will end eventually. Tell them that the most important thing is to keep one foot in front of the other. And if they’re not feeling motivated, it’s not the end of the world. If they’re feeling guilty, anxious, and unmotivated, remind them that it’s ok – exams are hard–and all they can do is do their best.

With support and encouragement, your teen can go into that exam hall, feeling motivated, confident, and ready to smash it.

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