Advice on how to communicate with your teen during exam season

As teens are now in the midst of the summer exam period and fast approaching the end of the academic year, many parents may feel keen to talk to their child about their future aspirations and motivations. However, navigating effective career-based conversations during this stressful and highly emotional time for teens may prove challenging.

New research reveals that 65% of teens say that their parent is the number one person in their life that they want support and guidance from on their chosen career path, but good timing is essential to ensure this is done constructively.

To help, we’ve once again teamed up with the brilliant Dr Nihara Krause – a multi-award-winning Clinical Psychologist, specialising in teenage and adult mental health – to share three ways parents can communicate sensitively and effectively with their teen about their future career options during exam season.

#1: Temperature check: Get a measure of your child’s current mental state

Some teenagers might find conversations around their future during exam time to be positive motivation to get their heads down and work hard, but in other cases it can put more pressure on your child to perform well. It is important to understand how your child is coping with exams before you decide how best to approach a conversation with them. If your teenager is showing signs of being anxious or fearful of exams, avoid topics which could heighten pressure, such as their future careers, and focus on helping them deal more positively with the now.

#2: Timing: Think carefully about when to engage your child in meaningful conversations, allowing yourself to be steered by them

Every child is different, and parents know better than anyone how their children like to work and communicate during times of heightened pressure. For example, it may be that your child would like to take their mind away from revision and relax in the hours before an exam by having a conversation with you about the latest trend online or on their summer plans for after exams. Alternatively, they might prefer to solely focus on the present and the upcoming exam that they’re about to sit in which case parents should be guided by when the child is open to talking to them as opposed to interrupting their trail of revision focus.

#3: Talk them up: Continue to be your child’s biggest cheerleader and supporter

Again, parents understand how their child likes to be supported better than anyone. It’s important to give your teenager the space to talk if they want to and respond with encouragement when they do. If a child feels supported, then they are more likely to look to their parents, even during times of heightened stress. Keep the door open, so they can approach you when they want to talk– and, importantly if they do, listen and take on board what they say.