For many young people, the day they receive their results can be full of excitement and celebration, and for others it can be a time of worry and potential disappointment.
In this blog, Thrive Relationship Manager and Trainer, Kay Hamilton, suggests ways to support young people on results day and how to be alongside them, whatever the outcome.
Although this year’s results days aren’t what you’d class as normal, it is normal to feel a real mix of emotions, asking yourself questions like ‘did I do enough?’, ‘will I get the grades I need?’, ‘what if I fail?’. Here are some ideas to help young people calm their nerves on the big day and how parents can support them.
What young people can do:
- Have something planned the day before to take their mind away from worrying. They could meet up with friends, go for a relaxing walk, arrange a day out or have a movie marathon.
- Find out how their school or college are sharing the results. This year may be a little different, with some sharing in bubbles or groups, while others may be online.
- Try and get a good night’s sleep.
- Set a time to collect their results and plan other activities throughout the day to keep busy until it’s time to go.
- Think about who is going to collect the results with them, whether they’d like to go with friends or family for support on the day.
- Have time to reflect without comparing themselves to others – everyone has a different journey and a different path.
- Support each other.
What parents can do:
- Make time to talk in the lead up to results day about how they might feel/cope on the day – they may find it hard to let you know how they feel or ask for help.
- Try not to place on pressure on your teens. Saying that you think they will do well may feel like it’s reassuring, but you don’t want them to think you are disappointed if they don’t get the results you expected. Instead, remind them of the effort they put in and let them know that you love them and that you are proud of them and for everything they have done.
- Support them to think about next steps, maybe going through pros and cons for their different options.
- Using language like “I am sorry, it’s really hard when things don’t go to plan”, and “I am here to help you, we will find a way forward” are helpful. It is important they know that failing exams does not make them a failure.
- Don’t dismiss their worries – exam pressure is real! Over 87,000 children visit the ChildLine website every year seeking advice. In recent years, there has been a 200% increase in young people seeking counselling for exam stress. With the impact of the pandemic on exams this year, Childline has again seen a spike in calls from young people with exam stress.
Dealing with disappointment
It can feel very overwhelming, disheartening, and disappointing not to get the results you expected. It is important that young people can speak to someone who can support them and guide them in their next steps.
If things have not gone as expected, let young people know that they still have plenty of opportunities and time to reach their future goals. It is important to validate their feelings of disappointment and overwhelm and let them know you are there to support them without judgement.
Support your teens to put things into perspective and help them find answers to questions they may have around their next steps. They may want to start thinking about other courses, colleges and universities they could apply to, or they could check with their chosen sixth form, college or university to see if they will accept them with the results they have.
They may also be able to explore options they hadn’t previously considered, like a work-based apprenticeship, a gap year or foundation year. Try to keep an open mind – all is not lost.
Finally, be there for your teens and remind them not to be hard on themselves. Let them know you are proud of them for who they are. Celebrate their success if they received what they wanted, and if they didn’t, reassurance and acceptance will be needed more than ever.
Where to find support if you need it
- UCAS website – here you can chat to students who have been in your shoes.
- ChildLine offer tips for teens on coping with the worry of results day.
- Young Minds have useful advice for parents on exam results stress.
- National Bureau for students with disabilities promotes opportunities for young people and adults with any kind of disability in post-16 education, training, and employment across the UK.
- The Leap – A podcast on gap year options.