Do you find your anger rising and your blood beginning to boil as you question your teen about their revision behaviour? They act defensive and shut you out and you just want to scream because all you want is to help them do their very best.
You're not alone. When I asked the parents in my Facebook group about this, most of them admitted to losing their rag several times in the last week. The trouble is, most of them were ashamed of themselves for doing so and really didn't want to repeat their behaviour - but inevitably did because the show-down had changed nothing about their teenager's revision.
So, how do you stop yourself from getting triggered by your teen's revision behaviour?
In this article I'm going to share how to prevent yourself from getting triggered. In another article (part 2) I'll share how to manage yourself when you do get triggered (check my HuffPost UK blogger profile to see when that's published).
1. Build a good relationship before exam season
In times of stress relationships are tested. Exam season is often the most stressful situation your teenager will have faced in their short lives. It's also one of the most stressful things you've had to get through as a parent.
Therefore, you need to work on building a strong relationship with very open communication before you get to exam season.
This piece of advice might be too late for you for this exam season, but bear it in mind so that you're better able to cope when the next lot of exams come around.
2. Have a clear vision of your desired relationship with your child
I was very struck by the American professor of psychology, Carol Dweck's, description, in her book 'Mindset', of her poor relationship with her mother, and how she improved it. After struggling for many years, failing to get the kind of support and closeness she wanted, she decided she was going to be the grown-up in the situation. She visualised how she wanted the relationship to be and started behaving the way she needed to behave for that to happen. Even if she got nothing back from her mother she was determined not to be the one who was falling short.
Over a period of years her mother started to respond and now they have a very fulfilling and supportive relationship.
What you need to do is visualise the kind of parent you want to be in exam season and start behaving in this way - no matter what you get back from your teen. Even if they don't thank you now, they'll see how hard you tried when they look back in years to come and start to meet you halfway.
3. Talk to your son or daughter about how they'd like to communicate with you about revision and exams
When I was taking my own GCSEs and A Levels I would get home from school after each exam and my dad would ask me, "How did you get on?". My answer was always, "Fine."
It turned into a bit of a joke between us, but I'm aware that in many families this non-descript answer is incredibly frustrating. As a parent you feel out of control and you're clinging onto every detail about revision and exams that your child deigns to share with you. "Fine" is not enough.
Explain to your child your need for information, and why you need it. Don't just nag them until they shout back. If you can come up with a plan together about how you can ask how things are going in a way that won't annoy them and what they're willing to share and when then you'll both have a more pleasant time as the exam weeks unfold.
4. Accept your teenager's independence
Parenting is a long and winding road towards giving your child full independence. However, it's very hard to let that independence happen at a time when the stakes are so high and you can see that your child would benefit from your support, if only they weren't being so bloody-minded.
This is all about doing your own internal work to let them go, be independent and manage the process of taking exams by themselves as much as they possibly can. You might need to talk it out with a trusted friend, or journal it out in a good note book. This isn't going to happen overnight but it will cause both you and your child much less aggro if you can be at peace with their growing independence.
5. Trust your child and the parenting you've done to date
You clearly deeply care about your child and you've invested all the years of their life up until now into making them the best human being they can be. Trust your own parenting and how it will reflect on your child at times of difficulty like this. And trust them too. They're not stupid. They have some common sense. They are the ones that will have to live with the consequences of their actions. So do your best to trust them.
I hope these tips help you to approach exam season, and communication with your teen throughout this time, with more calm and serenity.
Lucy Parsons is an academic coach and author of The Ten Step Guide to Acing Every Exam You Ever Take. You can download The Supportive Parents Exam Season Toolkit for free to get daily ideas about how to empower yourself and support your child throughout exam season, without getting triggered! Lucy's website is www.lifemoreextraordinary.com.