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Results time tips for families

By Kathryn Torney

The Parents Advice Centre has offered tips to the families of young people receiving their all-important A-Level or GCSE results.

A-Level results will arrive with students today and, in many cases, will determine if students have achieved the grades for their chosen university courses.

Meanwhile, GCSE results will be issued to thousands of students across the province next week.

Pip Jaffa, chief executive of Parents Advice Centre, said waiting for exam results can be a very stressful experience for all concerned and can affect students, parents, and family members in different ways.

She said: “Waiting for exam results can be an anxious time. There are high expectations to succeed and achieve from friends and family.

“Inevitably, the focus of family life is on the countdown to results’ day. Teenagers can have different reactions to situations like this - laid-back and unfazed or extremely worried. It can be hard for parents to strike the right balance - being supportive but in the way the young person needs. The best approach is just to try and get through it.”

Mrs Jaffa said it is plain sailing for those who get the results they want.

“However for those who are disappointed it can be difficult to cope with and upsetting for parents to see their child upset,” she continued.

“The most important thing is not to turn the situation into a catastrophe. Your son or daughter may well be upset and this is understandable. He or she will need emotional comfort and support but also practical help and advice.

“You will need to sit down and look at the situation before deciding on the next steps.

“It is important to help the young person keep a sense of perspective and not dwell on the negative. They need time to assimilate their results and parents must allow them to express their feelings.

“Often contacting their friends can be comforting, especially when they find many others have similar grades.”

Mrs Jaffa said it is important to remember that children will absorb attitudes from their parents.

“When there is a supportive and positive atmosphere children are more likely to cope better,” she explained.

“Sometimes, in the hype surrounding exam results and the opportunities open to those with ‘good grades’, young people’s own ambitions and wishes can get sidelined or forgotten about.

“As parents, we need to be careful not to assume that children with ability and academic achievements will necessarily want to pursue university careers. It is great if they have that choice but we need to listen to and respect our children’s aspirations.

“Let’s avoid trying to live our dreams through our children or hoping that they will take up the chances we never had. Young people who choose their own career paths are more likely to succeed than those who don’t. At this time of the year we need to pay attention to what our children want – even if their ideas don’t run in parallel with our own.”

To find out more about dealing with exam results or a difficulty within your family, call the Parents Advice Centre on freephone 0808 8010 722, email or log on too

PAC has offices in Belfast, Londonderry, Dungannon and Ballymena.

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