Teens Stressed by Exams and Big Decisions? Try These 8 Tips to Help Them ‘Chill Out’

By: Clare Bruce

As the pressure on school leavers to choose uni degrees and career paths ramps up, it’s a good time for the advice of Pastor Charlotte Gambill: “chill out!”

Charlotte, a parent of two teens, and pastor of LIFE Church in the UK with her husband Steve, chatted to Laura Bennett during a recent visit to Australia. She spoke about the pressures that are being placed on her children, especially her daughter Hope, soon to turn 17.

“There’s so much pressure around that age,” she said. “There’s pressure about the [subjects] they choose, there’s pressure about what they do next after the exams, so actually my voice to her as a mum has been ‘chill out’! I’m like, ‘Everybody is pressuring you; you’re 16 for crying out loud, so take some pressure off’.”

Urgency Doesn’t Lead to Good Decisions

When young people are surrounded with a sense of competition and urgency, it can pressure them into making decisions that aren’t their own. By creating an environment of safety and calm, and encouraging them to take their time, parents can give their young people the space they need to make their own discoveries.

“They don’t have to choose now, just because everyone is saying ‘choose now’. There’s space, and they can take their time.”

“I think we have a generation that’s stressed out making decisions at school and college and often they make a poor decision because they’re under pressure,” Charlotte said. “So one of the things I’ve tried to teach my daughter is… ‘Just take some time to yourself, clear your head, get some space, pray about it, and then when you feel you’re ready to, make a decision. Not when the teacher tells you or when people at the school are pressuring you because they’ve all made theirs’.

“They don’t have to choose now, just because everyone is saying ‘choose now’. There’s space, and they can take their time.”

The same principle applies to decisions around relationships and faith, too, says Charlotte: “You have to give them room to get there on their own, otherwise you force them into something that later they’ll turn around and say ‘I never wanted to do this’.”

8 Tips for Parents of Students Sitting Exams

In a Facebook post (below), Charlotte gave the following advice to parents of students sitting exams:

  1. Pray for and with your teen: “Prayer with and over your kids works, and can change atmospheres.”
  2. Create a calm environment: “Calm is a gift we can give them – a tidy space to study, a candle-lit room, a favourite treat left in their school bag, food and tea deliveries to rooms are always a welcome gesture.”
  3. Send messages of encouragement: “Leave notes to tell them you are proud.”
  4. Show affection: “Hug them whenever they pass you by (whether they say they want one or not, they need one).”
  5. Help them see the positive: “Make them smile and don’t feed the worry monster.”
  6. Take the pressure off: “Don’t pressure them to achieve a grade, just encourage them to do the best they can.”
  7. Be physically available: “Whether you have a crazy studious child or one who hates the thought of study, we can make a difference by being with them in their big moments (let’s not make it seem small when to them it’s huge).”
  8. Be emotionally available: “Love big, cheer loud, bring the calm and be present.”

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Clare is a digital journalist for the Broadcast Industry.