How to Help Your Child Feel Confident about Exams

How to Help Your Child Feel Confident about Exams


We all want our kids to feel confident about their exams. We want them to feel prepared, calm and in control. But exams, and especially the build up to exams, can be a time when young people really do struggle with motivation, preparation, discipline, and stress. These can all have a huge impact on their confidence which will in turn impact their performance.

Here are some tips to help your child feel more confident about exams and overcome some of the blocks that may get in their way.

If they seem unmotivated

If your child struggles with motivation to get started with their revision encourage them to focus on WHY they want to do well and what benefits or next steps exam success will bring their way. Encourage them to keep their eyes fixed on their goals and to remember this quote:

“Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most” – Abraham Lincoln

If they seem stressed

A little stress is motivating but too much stress can make a student feel overwhelmed and this does not help with clear-thinking or confidence.

Cortisol (the stress hormone) is produced more easily in the teen years so it's important that your child does all they can to keep stress at bay. 

Activities proven to combat stress include:

  • Listening to relaxing music
  • Regular exercise 
  • Being in nature
  • Having a routine
  • Reading for pleasure
  • Yoga 
  • Meditation

It is worth finding out what works for your child and encouraging them to include these activities in their daily life, especially in the run up to exams.

If they get stuck

Do encourage your child to ask for help if they get stuck revising rather than struggling on alone. Having a smart friend on speed dial can be useful but their teacher will definitely be the one with the right answers. 

If they are avoiding revision

Not revising might make your child happier in the short-term but long-term it will lead them to feel panicky and possibly doing quite badly. 

Explain this to them and encourage them to tackle what they need to FIRST then reward themselves with something fun. You could even help them plan their rewards.

If they aren’t getting enough sleep

Research shows that sleeping well leads to more productivity, better memory recall and less stress.

Here’s what helps. 

  • Avoid caffeine from 2pm
  • Get light and exercise during the day 
  • Get to bed by 10pm 
  • Have a milky drink before bed
  • Have a bedtime routine
  • Try a warm bath
  • Read or listen to music before sleeping

Good sleep matters because it helps their brain process what they have learned during the day and helps them be wide awake for learning the next day.

If they leave revision till the last minute

Leaving things to the last minute is never a good idea. It just increases feelings of anxiety.

Provide your young person with a diary or calendar so they can book in study slots. If they stick to their study slots, they will find highlighting them when done will be both satisfying and motivational.

If they panic during the exam

Teach your child that taking 5 long, slow breaths will ease any sense of panic as will clenching and unclenching their muscles from their shoulders to their toes. Pausing for a moment to relax their mind and body and hydrating will help them regroup and refocus.

Encourage them to focus on what they CAN do rather than focus on questions that baffle themm as this will keep their confidence up and ensure they use their time productively.

If they panic post-exam

Your child may want and need to know what happens if the exam has not gone well. Be positive and open about options rather than simply telling them you are sure they passed. Also celebrate their hard work post-exam rather than waiting for results --because they did it! They got through no matter what the final grade and hard work and effort are always worth championing and celebrating.


Be Confident Be You

Becky Goddard-Hill is the author of Be Confident Be You: The teenage guide to build confidence and self-esteem, in which your teen can find tons of motivational and supportive ideas.