It is the season of stress for many youngsters right now. The SATs are over but many young people are immersed in general school exams, GCSEs, A Levels, end-of-year exams at Uni and Finals.
There won’t be a parent who doesn’t want their youngster to do well and achieve. But perhaps in the light of reports that this increasing pressure is driving some kids to breaking point, and with the increase of mental health issues, we need to look at how our parental attitude can sometimes exacerbate the already stressful situation the youngsters are experiencing.
Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff suggests that parents do unwittingly contribute to these stresses, along with other factors such as politics, social media and over loaded teachers. But it’s our personal anxieties which can all too easily be projected onto the youngsters, deeply affecting them.
It’s common we get anxious about educational achievement; there is a huge amount of propaganda surrounding grades and results, which many people cannot see past.
For we are rarely encouraged to look at the wider perspective and the fact that life does go on even without top grades. If people have determination, resourcefulness, courage and the ability to think outside of the institutionalised box they can go on to lead as successful a life as those who do, even if it takes a different route to get there.
There are many successful employees, businessmen, home educated adults, even celebrities who are living proof that:
- There IS a way forward after not getting an A, A*, or a First
- People DO have happy and successful careers without them
- Results are NOT the only measure of a person
- Exams do NOT measure overall intelligence, creativity, transferable skills, and valuable life-skills like management, organisation, problem solving or resourcefulness, all necessary elements of a workable life
- Neither are they an indication of the PERSONAL qualities necessary for a social and loving life connected with others, which contributes to our overall happiness and mental wellbeing more than grades will.
If parents could take on board this wider view it would help keep exams, results, and the stresses associated with them, more appropriately balanced within the context of living a whole life. And our less pressured attitude will filter down to the youngsters and help them keep a more healthy perspective on the whole business.