Education & Family

Exams 'stress out parents too,' survey finds

exam hall Image copyright PA

"I couldn't help academically because he knows much more than me - I was no use to him," a concerned mother tells BBC Radio 5 live.

According to a survey, she is not alone in feeling the stress and strain over her child's revision and exam schedule.

Nearly a quarter (24%) of British parents polled for 5 live said their own mental health had been affected by the pressure of their children's exams.

A quarter also said they had often lost sleep worrying over children's exams.

Two in five parents (42%) said not knowing how to help their children with revision made them feel as if they were "not good enough as parents".

And nearly a third (31%) said they had offered their children money as an incentive to revise in the hope of boosting their grades.

The poll also found that more than half (52%), would like more help and advice on how to support their children through their revision.

The survey of 830 parents of 11 to 18-year-olds was carried out by ComRes for BBC Radio 5 live.


Parents' concerns expressed on BBC Radio 5

One mother told 5 live Afternoon Edition: "It's hard as a parent because you're not quite sure how productive the time is, if it's effective revision, whether he's procrastinating and not really revising."

One father added: "I can't help her very well academically... you feel the pressure on yourself. The system's changed so much over time - they learn things differently."

Another mother added: "It's hard - you don't have anything there for you because it's all focussed on the children."


Clinical psychologist Dr Anna Colton said she often came across parents who were stressed about their children's exam performance.

But Dr Colton warned there was a danger in parents channelling their own hopes and aspirations into their child.

"Hang on - whose exams are these? It's important to separate your stress and theirs," she said.

The best approach to revision was to give your child a calm, helpful environment at home, she added.

The poll comes as BBC Learning launches its brand new exam initiative The Mind Set - the UK's first national peer-to-peer coaching network for students studying for GCSEs, and nationals in Scotland.

The initiative will help young people overcome exam stress with the help of 12 student coaches who have been there and done it.

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