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Looking after Emotional Wellbeing during family exam stress


GCSE/ Alevel exam and assessment periods can create an additional layer of stress in day-to-day family life. Cognacity’s Parenting Expert and Connection Coach, Dr Gauri Seth shares her helpful insights to parents, with advice on how to promote emotional wellbeing and connection with children and teens sitting exams or assessments.

Dr Gauri asks parents to think about how to improve emotional connection between family members, and through connected dynamics, improve emotional wellbeing for the family unit. Human connection is a universal, and especially during times of exam stress, feeling connected, understood and attuned can support the wellbeing of both parents and children/teens.

Connected dynamics make us all feel stronger, happier and perform better. Feeling alone or misunderstood can do the opposite, so if possible, she encourages promoting connected dynamics with children and teens.

The importance of the consciously connected parent for wellbeing 

Dr Gauri Seth advocates coping with family exam stress by sharing how important it is to be a consciously connected parent for connection and emotional wellbeing during exam stress. She advocates that it is a lot easier to connect with someone else, including our children and teens, if we are connected to ourselves. A crucial step is for parents to tune into themselves consciously, and ask themselves with a non-judgemental and compassionate curious lens; what feelings are these exams bringing up for me as a parent?

Our aspiration for our children and teens to do their best and optimise opportunity, can drive our anxiety – this is very natural. Be conscious of this, and ensure you are taking steps to moderate this anxiety – ring fence time for self-care within the busy routines of family life and identify what it takes to support your wellbeing, and prioritise this where possible.

There is a high chance some of the palpable anxiety for parents is actually a blend of the situation now, interacting with memories of the parents’ past – for example their own exam experience, their own relationships with their parents, teachers or siblings. If parents are more attuned to their own emotional landscape, it is a lot easier to connect with the child or teen who is actually sitting exams now.

Dr Gauri often sees parents where, on unpacking the reasons behind emotional turbulence with children and teens, they work out, together, that the pressure for their child or teen is triggering difficult memories for the parent, from their own childhood. If we can gain conscious awareness of this process, it can be extremely liberating for both parents and children or teens.

Dr Gauri’s most important message is that children/ teens know they are loved and accepted for who they are, no matter what, with no link between their exam performance and their self-worth, in the family home.

Here are a few of Dr Gauri Seth’s tips on how to boost connection with your child or teen:

● Ensure your child or teen knows they are loved no matter what for who they are, irrespective of how they perform. Unconditional acceptance is powerful for self esteem in children and teens, and sometimes they need that said explicitly to them in a way that makes sense to them.

● Love-Bomb – ring fence time for regular one-to-one connected time with the child or teen, doing something they choose and love to do. Ensure phones are put away. This is about quality time together, connecting, ideally laughing, doing something playful and rejuvenating.

● Try and have a conversation with your child or teen about their emotional status during this time- what exactly are they feeling? This process of establishing emotional granularity can be a strong connector between parent and child or teen.

● Laughing together boosts connection – have a think about when you last laughed authentically together and try and recreate the setting.

● Make time for exercise, nature, the outdoors – for all of you. Eat well, encourage them to have a good sleep routine and stay hydrated.

● Ensure you as parents appreciate the importance of your own state of mind: self-care for parents is crucial.

DISCLAIMER: Any information or advice Dr Gauri Seth give is purely based on her own experience. Comments made are as a coach – this is not medical or psychiatry advice. There is no guarantee as there are many variables that will impact outcomes. Everything stated should be taken as opinion.

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