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Why resilience is so important for young people; 5 tips to remember at exam time

The feedback I've received from parents and the media coverage indicates that COVID has had a massive impact on young people - their confidence and social confidence levels have plummeted whilst mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and eating disorders have rocketed. On top of this young people have the other pressures to deal with such as:

  • managing relationships with friends

  • dealing with pressure from social media

  • anxiety over academic work

  • body issues

Teaching young people about resilience and helping them to develop resilience would enable young people to deal with those issues. Benefits would also include:

  • Learn to deal better with conflict and arguments with friends

  • Improve their relationship and opinion of themselves

  • Develop more confidence

  • Learn qualities such as compassion, kindness and open-mindedness

  • Develop healthy habits such as positivity

  • Deal better with setbacks and adversity

Bear in mind, that resilience is a skill and so needs to be practised if it is to be effective and maintained. And just like other skills, the more it is practised, the better you become at developing the skill.

Parents have a huge and vital role to play in helping children develop these skills, especially during exam time. As it is exam season, I thought it would be useful to share some tips that parents can use to help their children during the Summer exam period.

1 Imbue them with confidence about themselves

And encourage positivity - about themselves and in their thoughts. Try and encourage your children to maintain an optimistic view - e.g. "you have worked hard, you will do well" Help them minimise catastrophic and negative thinking. A powerful method to help is by creating positive affirmations about themselves; E.g. "I believe in myself and trust my own judgement".

2 Point them to apps such as CALM and Headspace

To help them relax, sleep and find inner peace. My children have used these and can vouch for them! There are proven benefits from being more mindful and practising meditation even if it's just sitting quietly for a few minutes and focusing on breathing techniques such as breathing in through your nose for 3 seconds, holding for one and then breathing out for 4 seconds. There is evidence to suggest that practising such techniques can improve blood pressure, improve concentration, and improve sleep.

3 Encourage them to maintain perspective and a balanced view of life

Exams are not the defining feature of a young person's life. It is just one aspect of their exciting life journey. Their personality and value are not determined by their grades or by how well they do in an exam. This is related to point 1 above - encourage them to view setbacks as temporary and not life-defining, and instead to use setbacks as learning experiences. This strategy is part of reframing techniques- i.e. to help young people to see a positive view from negative events. Over time this will teach them to think differently and change their thinking patterns, to become more resilient to setbacks.

4 Encourage them to eat and sleep well.

The value of getting some fresh air and exercise to break up their revision schedule is also very important. There are plenty of studies to show that people experience lower levels of stress and higher well being when they have been on a nature walk. Its also seen to improve concentration levels.

5 Finally, allow a bit more slack to them during the exam season

-Their behaviours and moods will be affected so, as parents, allow them some leeway!

Concluding thoughts

It's worth emphasising that there are also benefits to parents from teaching your children resilience skills - your involvement ensures you teach yourself these important life skills too, thereby becoming a more resilient parent.

Parents play a vital role in modulating the behaviour of children; parents' approach seeps into the consciousness of their children and has a significant impact on shaping their inner voice. So, resilience in parents is likely to have a beneficial knock-on effect on their children.

This blog provides a brief outline of the benefits and strategies to achieve resilience for your children. I have also developed a comprehensive, interactive and evidence-based course on resilience which covers all these techniques and strategies in much more depth. I would be delighted to discuss these further and in more detail - please email me at if you would like more information.

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