The Worst Things Parents Can Say To Teenagers Taking Exams

The exam season is here. For families living in the exam zone, it’s a tricky time. Emotions are running high. Nerves are frayed. Parents try to be encouraging and supportive.

Here are the worst things parents can say:

  1. There are only two things that parents can ever say to teenagers taking their exams. The wrong thing. And the wrong thing. Whatever you say is going to irritate them. Accept it. Even accepting it, that’s irritating too.
  2. “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal, it’s only a bit of paper, and whatever happens we still…” Wherever you’re going with that, it’s not working. Think hole, stop digging. If you say, “Don’t worry,” this is interpreted as really meaning, “Relax, you’re in a ship heading at full speed towards a colossal iceberg.” But if you say it “really matters”, that translates as: “Why are you piling all this pressure on me now, like I really need any more?” Wrong and wrong. Again.
  3. “Remember how well your sister did.” Few things could be as provocative. It sets off a series of explosions all over the house like in a Sunday afternoon war film. Never mention siblings, dubiously-gifted cousins, unbearable child-prodigy neighbours.
  4. “How can you do any work with all those screens running at once?” The generation gap is now measured by the number of screens being used simultaneously.


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