If there’s a top three category for Parent v Teen conflict then ‘Revising for Exams’ always wins a place.

Just as parents are feeling more comfortable about letting their teen make more decisions for themselves, the ‘BIG’ exams arrive.

Naturally, our instincts as parents can be to pull back on the reins and take control of how and when our teen sons revise.

Then … BOOM 💥

Arguments, upset and confusion reigns as both parents and teen try to win control.

Here are my five top communication tips to keep most battles from starting.

1. Doing something is better than doing nothing

Sometimes starting revision is a big block in itself. It doesn’t have to be ‘right’ – just writing a list of ten questions about a small topic, or sketching out a spider diagram is enough to erase that procrastination block and help him feel that revision has begun.

2. Help him set time limits and rewards

Smaller focused study sessions of twenty five minutes with a five minute break are more effective than longer hours of continuous studying. Identify small rewards (such as a favourite snack, ten mins texting a friend, etc..) and encourage him to use them.

3. Spend less time planning and more time doing

Ooh… this one’s the Boss of Procrastination!! 😖 Planning coloured-in schedules and complex study cycles may feel like revising, yet they are merely a stalling activity. The best time for planning out revision is when you’ve already had a decent go, and found out the times and practices which work for you. The best revision timetables are FLEXIBLE ones, covered in scribbles and changes, rather than pristine photoshopped calendars.

4. Encourage him to keep asking questions

Keep in touch with tutors and teachers via email or Microsoft Teams – they’re there to help you when you get stuck! This is the chance to get quality 1 to 1 support for what you are struggling with. All those timetabled Yr 11, 12 or 13 lessons are when your teachers are ‘twiddling their thumbs’ without exam classes to teach – so they’d be delighted to hear from you! (Yes, I know how often teachers now get given other tasks and teaching responsibilities during this possible ‘Golden Time’, and never twiddle thumbs, but they’d still be chuffed to give you a hand if you get stuck 😉)

5. Positivity, Praise and Pizza!

Show your Teen how proud you are of their efforts to revise and give them praise, even if you feel like it’s falling onto deaf ears (it won’t be!) Watch out for them talking down their efforts – remind them how far they have come and how close they are to success.

Finally, there’s rarely anything that pizza delivery can’t make better – it shows them that you know how hard these revision weeks can be and you really appreciate their effort and resilience.

Phew!! To all families going through revision time – remember it doesn’t last for long and it will be over soon 😎

If you need a hand, or a shoulder to sob on, you know where I am!


Helping Mums and Sons to keep talking through the Teen and Young Adult years