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How to provide emotional support during GCSEs

(20 Posts)
Snog Tue 17-May-16 11:22:32

I could do with some tips on providing emotional support for my dd as she just seems to be spooling for a fight constantly as a reaction to GCSE exam pressures.
When I ask how I can help she makes demands that she knows I either can't fufill eg get me a Cinnabon from town (when I am not able to go to town) or are unreasonable eg want to swap bedrooms with you.

Any tips appreciated!

HSMMaCM Tue 17-May-16 14:23:07

I feel your pain. I found specific offers a bit more helpful ie would you like a pizza bagel, do you need any more pens, what would you like me to put on the shopping list, etc but even those were sometime met with little enthusiasm.

Good luck. You just have to walk on eggshells through the exam phase and look forward to the long summer holiday.

TheSecondOfHerName Tue 17-May-16 16:12:57

I am keeping the food cupboards stocked and trying to remain calm.

IpreferToblerone Tue 17-May-16 16:14:51

Yep lots of snacks and treats and trying to keep the house calm and encouraging the other siblings to give them space.

Leeds2 Tue 17-May-16 17:07:04

Make sure her favourite snacks are in the cupboard (including healthy ones!), cook her favourite dinners, a lot on MN seem to cook special breakfasts although I have never got into that, make sure they get a break and some fresh air. Things like going for a walk in the evening, watching a film together, take her out for lunch on a non exam day.

Snog Wed 18-May-16 07:08:02

Thanks everyone, your advice and support is much appreciated.
I am cooking my dd breakfast on exam days so I guess that's good although her behaviour is demanding and aggressive rather the appreciative on exam mornings!

Snacks is a bone of contention for me as my dd won't eat any healthy snacks and has recently put on weight as a result so I'm not buying her any more crisps!!!

Taking her out for lunch is a nice idea. When she's not stressed she is a different child but when stressed is frankly behaving like a horror. Yesterday she requested to be left alone in the lounge (fair enough) and then also tried to ban me from the room next door as well (my bedroom) which I told her was unreasonable.

I'm frustrated partly because she is unpleasant and difficult to live with, throwing her weight around and usually spoiling for a fight, and there is another 5 weeks of exams to go, but also because I don't seem able to help her manage the stress much.
I'm cooking her favourite meals, making her breakfast and letting her take over whatever room she wants to but beyond that I don't feel I'm helping her and she is clearly feeling the strain.

MaryMargaret Wed 18-May-16 07:28:05

Aaargh we're getting this too, the shouting, door slamming etc - something I thought she'd grown out of sad

Jumping in a bit here and hoping for wise counsel - DD is so worried and now thinks her stress is making her too tired to revise properly. She is going to bed early, getting (some) exercise but she is torturing herself about how this friend got a better mark in that coursework, another one answered such and such better in the exam etc.

It doesn't come from us, I never ask her about marks and her teachers are all really positive about her. But she is driving herself into a frenzy. And is cross/despairing that it won't work if I suggest doing 10 mins mindfulness or similar.

I am starting to worry she won't do herself justice just because she is so driven to do well. How do you cope with the constant measuring and comparing? I fell I ought to be saying something wise and deep, but I'm getting frazzled too!

MaryMargaret Wed 18-May-16 07:29:06

Sorry cross-posted OP, I really fell your pain!

Northernsoul58 Wed 18-May-16 09:48:24

Our DS was getting stressed as far back as Spring Half-Term. It was as though he had an allergic reaction to me and DH in that whenever we went near him he blew up and tried to pick a fight. (He was like the Incredible Hulk, but not green!) Since his mocks were a travesty (lots of Ds and Es) we were desperate to wade in and MAKE him do some revision.
In the end we chose to completely step back from him in every aspect of his life. Not just studying - we said, as long as you are not on your electronics, it's up to you if you do any studying or not. It was also his lifestyle too. He had to now come and ask for what he wanted in the way of food. I practically stopped cooking for him unless he asked (he's always been a picky eater so has a narrow range of healthy food which I sometimes have to make specially for him if he can't eat what me and his Dad eat). Essentially, we left him alone a lot. We work from home, so when he came back from school, we'd deliberately go out to allow him the house to himself.
TBH we never really 'went away' - still lots of hugging going on in our house - but, within a framework (restricted electronics) we just put as much decision making into his hands as possible. It worked. Peace broke out and we are now into GCSEs calm and positive. (His teachers and school must take full credit here.) Still some anxiety but not stress. We still don't expect miracles (see mock results above), but he has learned to regulate his own behaviour and has somehow 'grown up' in an unexpected way. Not saying this is going to work for everyone, but it just seemed we were over-parenting and when we stepped away from him, he could be himself at last.

MaryMargaret Wed 18-May-16 10:50:06

Wow well done NorthernSoul. Trouble is, my DD comes to me saying how stressed she is, itemising all the worries listed above, but ends to throw proffered suggestions back in my face.

I realise in theory a counsellor might suggest I reply instead with questions - 'how does that make you feel' etc - it never comes into my mind in the heat of the moment though .

But I think you might be on to something; I should make more effort to try to help her find her own solutions, and stop trying to find solutions for her maybe?

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 18-May-16 16:03:00

DS1 has done four papers now and is still holding it together, which is good. Eating and sleeping OK, which is even better. I've noticed that the less time he spends at school, the better his mental health is, so the day when he has exams in the morning and the afternoon is going to be a challenge. Hopefully he'll go to the Learning Support department in between.

Northernsoul58 Wed 18-May-16 16:28:03

MaryMargaret, sometimes it's better just to say nothing at all. Perhaps your DD just needs to vent and rant in a safe and loving place (with you) but isn't seeking counselling or solutions. Just sit and nod and say 'hm, that's hard for you'. And then just leave it. Say nothing. Let her hear herself. Sit in silence if needed, just being a kind and sympathetic ear.

MaryMargaret Wed 18-May-16 16:55:42

Thanks northernsoul. I' ll try!

elfycat Wed 18-May-16 17:04:06

If it's not your cup of tea - ignore.

Does she have rescue remedy? ( a complementary therapy for stressful times ) I also find that in addition to any benefits it might have, it acknowledges the stressful time and shows that help and understanding have been offered.

chickensaresafehere Wed 18-May-16 17:05:48

Same situation here!
Most talk ends up in her goading for an argument.She is falling to pieces stressing out about minor things,today's was that she couldn't get her laptop to print to the printer.You have never seen such a terrific meltdown!!
No matter what I say everything is wrong & don't even get me started on her relationship at the moment with dh.
I escaped earlier to walk the dog & wondered to myself how I am going to survive the next 5 weeks.

bigTillyMint Wed 18-May-16 19:16:18

We went through this last year - sympathies!

Girls in particular (well particularly in our house!) seem to get very stressed and emotional. DD did hers last year (now in the midst of AS's) and DS is doing a couple this year. He seems to be taking it all in his stride (even the AQA Bio!), she had a nightmare and was incredibly stressed.

I found the key was/is
DON'T ASK ANY QUESTIONS! Other than would you like a snack/watch TV/treat, etc.
Be prepared for them to rant and put all their angst onto you.
Leave them alone as much as possible, but encourage them to spend down-time with you/their friends.
Encourage them to do some exercise (going for a run/to the gym when they feel stressed does seem to help)
Help them tick-off/scrub out each exam as they are done and count down the days till they are over.
Make sure they have something to look forward to when the exams are over!

And to give you some hope for the future, DD is coping much better with her AS's - was stressed in the last couple of weeks before, but a hundred times better than last year. So far!

MaryMargaret Wed 18-May-16 21:00:35

Well that's all helpful - thanks so much. I've bookmarked for the next burst of panic due at the weekend grin

YippeeTeenager Wed 18-May-16 22:46:45

I'm finding that little acts of kindness are helping with the stress, sounds daft but turning up with a blanket and hot water bottle when DD is conked out on the settee, cooking her favourite meals and small chocolate treats are working wonders. I've been offering lifts instead of expecting her to get the bus and just trying to be a lot more available without crowding her. And not asking any questions about exams unless she volunteers a bit of info to start a conversation. Still a long way to go but it's calmer here than previously expected, touching a lot of wood now!

Travelledtheworld Thu 19-May-16 04:12:53

I communicate with my DD by text !

HSMMaCM Thu 19-May-16 07:20:48

Yippee - that sounds great.

Travel - we use texts a lot - no grunting or flouncing on those.

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