How to help your teenager with exam anxiety

anxiety teenager Feb 21, 2023

Here are 5 things to talk about with them


  1. Anxiety is your body’s way of warning you that something is up. It is a normal way to feel in times of pressure and is something everyone will experience. Our teenagers’ lives have become so busy that they may miss the subtle signs, like headache & tummy flutters and only take notice when the bigger signs arrive, feeling restless & withdrawn, overly sensitive and have trouble sleeping. Look at anxiety like a car alarm that goes off when it thinks you may be in danger. Just like the car alarm, it doesn’t always get it right! It is a warning, that’s all and even if  the symptoms feel hugely overwhelming, it is only a warning.
  2. Certain situations like exam times & interviews, will bring on the feelings of anxiety, but they are temporary. During these times, it is crucial to get perspective. Anxiety loves nothing more than not knowing and flourishes with uncertainty. When the alarm sounds, come back to your body, move, run, walk, jump, change the energy of your body. Come back to your breath and slow it down by focussing on long slow exhales. Discuss the hard facts about the exams, how many, the times & dates, make a plan and write it down together. So often I see how well this works if the levels of anxiety are particularly high. 
  3. Seeing your anxiety on paper is so effective. Write down everything you are worried about on one side of a page and score out of 10, the likely hood of it happening. If it’s a 10, then ask what could you do to make it an 8? How could you make it a 5? Get to a number that feels achievable and see how their anxiety feels. It is amazing the clarity you get when you do this exercise together .
  4. Anxiety can show itself in different ways. Remember, behind every behaviour is a feeling and behind every feeling is an un-met need. Be there to listen to them and try to find that need to get to the real issue.
  5. Listen don’t lecture. So many times, as the parent we want to solve all their problems. Anxiety will always be in their lives and our job is to remind them that it is just an alarm, they are stronger than they believe, teach them tools to manage symptoms and give them perspective in every situation..


Most importantly remind them of how well they are doing and how amazing they are. Be their anchor as they go through this short phase of life and see how much they grow through it all.

" Anxiety isn't you. It's something moving through you. It can leave out the same door it came in "

James Clear


If you need my support  my email is [email protected]




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