exam results, especially such important ones such as the Leaving Cert, or other State exams, can be a stressful time for students and parents alike. This is especially the case, when a student receives disappointing results, which do not meet his or
her hopes or get the college place or career choice he or she initially wanted.
Here are some tips on dealing with this as a parent / guardian / carer (PGC).
1. Manage your own expectations
Be aware of how you feel about your child’s results (as you
could feel as disappointed and devastated as they are). Take a step back to understand your own feelings and expectations so you don’t subconsciously pass them they to your child. It can be helpful to talk through how you feel with a partner
or with a friend.
The more you
can be aware of your own expectations and feelings the easier it will be to help your child. Remember that one of their worst fears about exam results is probably disappointing their parents, so be careful you don’t react in a way that confirms
Often thinking through the
“what if” of bad results in advance can help you be more grounded and prepared for when they tell you.
2. Respond Supportively
When you hear the results, try to respond as supportively as possible. Listen your
child’s feelings of disappointment and upset and be as understanding as possible. Focus on any positive in the situation such as how close he or she was or how much work was put in.
Also, show your support in other ways, such as cooking his / her favourite meal, or providing another
treat. Often, being there and expressing that you understand and love them no matter what is sufficient.
3. Give Perspective
One of your most important jobs is to hold perspective for your child. While not getting
the results you want can feel really disappointing, it is not the most important thing in the world. You know of plenty of people who learn from the experience and move onto success the second time round, or for whom an alternative college choice turns
out to be much more fruitful than the first one.
Express a positive belief to your child that you will sort this out together, that there are other options there for them in the future.
Give your Child Time
Be cautious about too quickly giving well-meaning advice and give your child time to deal with his or her own feelings
and emotions – a period of “mourning” is often very appropriate in these situations and your best role can often be one of listener and supporter.
Once the initial disappointment has been dealt with, your child will be ready to plan and think through what to do next. Rather
than making lots of suggestions, make sure to go slow to empower him or her to think through alternative. This is a good time to express your belief in your child, highlighting his or her strengths, positive abilities and unique qualities. Reassure
him / her that you will be their ally moving forward.
John Sharry is founder of the Parents Plus Charity and an adjunct professor at the UCD School of Psychology, parentsplus.ie
Excerpts from St Patrick's Psychiatric Hospital's
"Five tips for parents whose children are set to receive their Leaving Cert results"
(St Patrick's is the oldest Psychiatric Hospital in the world, founded by Dean Jonathan Swift.)
The following does not just apply to the Irish Leaving Certificate, but to
every exam a student faces in his or her academic career. Please apply this thinking to yourself, let it reduce the pressure you put on yourself, and accept as true not succeeding in an exam is definitely not the end of your hopes of ending up where you want to be.
"It’s easy to think that this is an ‘all or nothing’ scenario and although the
Leaving Certificate is important, it is not the only deciding factor in any element of life." (My underlining.)
CEO of St Patrick’s Mental Health Service, Paul Gilligan, emphasised this point when stating: “Your child will be too close to the event to realise this; but the Leaving Certificate isn’t going to determine
their whole life’s purpose." (My underlining.)
“It’s essential that you give them the perspective of knowing that if their results don’t go to plan, it doesn’t mean that they can’t achieve
their ambition.” (My underlining.)
The Walk in My Shoes Helpline for 18-25 year olds is a confidential
telephone and email service staffed by experienced mental health nurses, 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. You can contact
the Walk in My Shoes Helpline service by calling Dublin 01 249 3555, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Mental Health
Support & Information Service is a confidential telephone and email service staffed by experienced mental health nurses, 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, with an answering and call-back facility
outside hours. You can contact the Support & Information Service by calling Dublin 01 249 3333, or email email@example.com.
SEVEN STAGE DE-STRESSING WALK
Padraig O'Morain's Newsletter, The Irish Times
I developed this walk a few years ago and I’ve used it ever since. It
helps when I am experiencing unwanted feelings (gloom, say, or nervousness about a situation or challenge); it also helps when all is well and I want to keep up my mindfulness practice.
You could also do this in bed, or sitting down, or standing in a queue, but I normally do it when I’m walking.
I’ve included visual symbols which help me to remember each of the steps.
Here goes ~
1 – What five things am I aware of right now?
This means what am I aware of in my vicinity? So it could be people, traffic, trees, sounds, the feeling of my feet against the ground, the smell of flowers or shrubs. Or it could be my own breathing, my posture,
maybe a physical feeling I have.
Symbol: The sun, representing the light of
2 – What five things do I accept right now?
This could be how I feel, or something that is happening
in my world or in somebody else’s. It could even be the weather.
a bowl which is accepting the light from the sun. So the light of awareness is now held in the bowl of acceptance.
3 – Bring awareness to my breath.
This means observing a number of in-breaths and out-breaths. For me this usually means five in-breaths and out-breaths. But the number isn’t really all that important, it could be fewer or more.
Symbol: Imagine the light being drawn up out of the bowl by your breath.
4 – Say an affirmation.
This means repeating, mentally, an affirmation that you find helpful. It turns your thoughts in a more useful direction. You can develop your own
affirmations. Here are a few that I use.
does not depend on this.’
Note: Whatever is on my mind now
will probably be forgotten about soon enough and probably won’t affect my overall happiness.
‘If I can find happiness in this I am liberated.’
Note: If you can find some happiness in unwanted situations then that’s a form of liberation: you don’t have to wait for the planets to align, so to speak, in order to have some happiness.
‘Life is not a game of chess.’
Note: I don’t have to spend every moment of my day, or of this walk, problem-solving. I can just ‘be’.
Symbol: The word ‘affirmation’ appears in the light that your breath drew out of the bowl.
5 – What’s positive?
List five things that are positive. This is just to help turn your mind in a lighter direction. It also helps you to avoid getting caught in a harmful loop of thoughts
in which you attack yourself or other people or life in general over and over.
that are positive don’t have to be about the main issue that is on your mind today. They could be that the sky is blue, that somebody you know is happy, that you’re looking forward to something tomorrow, that you are able to make the choice
to go on a walk like this.
Symbol: The light becomes a circle in the sky,
in other words becomes the sun again, representing what’s positive.
6 – Remember self-compassion.
means reminding yourself that you will still be your own true friend at the end of the day whatever may happen. Or it could be at the end of a piece of work you’re doing, or of a social event you’re unsure about.
Symbol: The sun becomes a heart.
7 – Remember courage.
This means connecting with your own power. It means knowing what your intentions are and doing what needs to be done even if you feel nervous about it.
Symbol: The heart becomes a shield that could be held by a warrior, a male or female warrior as you wish.
PLEASE SEE THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES, THEY ARE TIMELY, DEALING
AS THEY DO WITH THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS.
RESULTS, AND THE OPTIONS AVAILABLE IF YOU DON'T GET WHAT YOU NEEDED FOR YOUR PREFERRED COURSE ~
"DO NOT PANIC!"
THERE IS ALWAYS MORE THAN ONE WAY TO GET TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE ~ NEVER PANIC!
A STUDENT'S PERSONAL CV DOCUMENT, TO HELP EXAMINE YOUR MANY ACHIEVEMENTS,
CONTRIBUTIONS, STRENGTHS OF CHARACTER, USEFUL EXPERIENCES: REALISE WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER: SEE YOURSELF AFRESH ~
"A STUDENT'S CURRICULUM VITAE"
A GUIDE ON HOW TO PREPARE WELL FOR ANY OF THE INTERVIEWS YOU MAY BE FACING
SHORTLY, INCLUDING HOW TO READ AN INTERVIEW PANEL ~
"INTERVIEW SEASON, YIKES!!!"
MOUNTING EVIDENCE OF THE MENTAL AND PHYSICAL DAMAGE OF OVER-USE OR LATE NIGHT USE OF BLUE LIGHT EMITTING DEVICES ~
"BEWARE THE LIGHT!!"
Best of Luck in All Your Endeavours!
Iseult Catherine O'Brien
If you disagree with me or find errors, typographical or factual in this Article, please let me know.
If it has been of any benefit, please let me know. If I don't learn where I'm failing I cannot correct and improve.