Exams and Revision

How to help your teen believe in themselves – during exams and beyond

After months of learning and weeks of revision, your teen’s exams are underway. No matter how well they’ve revised, their self-belief is just as important for their success. The good news is, there are lots of things you can do to help them build self-belief – both during exam season and while they’re waiting for their results. 

Read on for confidence-boosting tricks that will help your teen achieve their full potential in the exam hall, and beyond.

Why confidence and self-belief is so important for teens?

Lots of studies have proven a link between academic confidence and higher grades, including our own earlier this year. Teens who think they’re good at science, for example, are more likely to apply themselves and do better as a result. At the same time, children who think they’re not smart enough to do well are more likely to think ‘why bother’ and try less hard as a result. 

Self-belief is also important when your teen is tackling challenges and putting themselves out there. If they really believe in themselves, they’ll feel more confident making those big life decisions and feel more resilient when things don’t always go their way. 

1. Celebrate the small wins

Paying attention to your teen’s achievements – however big or small – can give your teen a huge morale boost. Whether they’ve achieved a good grade in their coursework, worked out the answer to a tough Maths question, or just stuck to their revision timetable, these are all worth calling out specifically. 

Try to praise the effort, rather than always focusing on the outcomes. The key here is to show that you’re proud of them for giving something a go and committing to the challenge, no matter the result.

2. Help them set goals

Helping your teen set small goals can lead to gradual improvement. It’s proven that setting realistic goals (and achieving them!) can help young people feel more confident as a result – instead of feeling disappointed if they can’t reach over-ambitious goals. If they can build up lots of little things to be proud of, by the time exams and results day comes, they’ll feel much more confident overall.

3. Write it down

Research has shown that writing down your achievements can prime your brain for confidence and achievement. Whether you stick the list on the fridge or keep it in pride of place on their desk, if your teen is feeling anxious and doubtful, looking at a list of all their small achievements can give them the boost to get going again.

4. Listen when they share their opinions and feelings

Whether they’re processing a difficult exam or simply voicing an opinion different to your own, try to listen to them properly. Showing your teen that you’ll always consider their opinion and validate their feelings can help them feel heard and understand that their voice matters.

As they move into adulthood, forming their own opinions and ideas is important. If you can encourage independent thinking, this will help to build self-confidence and believe that what they have to say is worth listening to.

5. Remind them of the power of positive self-talk

Teaching self-love and self-belief can be tricky, but modelling the behaviour yourself can help. Body shaming, negative thoughts and peer pressure are all big issues for teens. So when you’re hard on yourself: ‘I hate the way I look in these jeans’ or compare yourself to others: ‘he’s so much smarter than me’ they can pick up on this.

Instead, encourage them to focus on the qualities, skills and attributes they like about themselves. Remind them to speak to themselves kindly (or like they’re speaking to their best friend) when they’re looking in the mirror or feeling down. It could be as simple as going around the dinner table and saying one thing everyone did well or was proud of that day.

6. Find out where they need help

If they’re struggling with self-belief or feeling a dip in their self-confidence, try to work with your teen on why this might be. 

If it’s around exams and schoolwork, ask them where they’re lacking confidence or understanding. Whether it’s a bit of extra help from a tutor to go over difficult topics, or even going to a revision class at school, together you can help them find the answers they need. Knowing that you’re there to support them and help them out can help minimise their worry and boost their belief that they can do well.

Waiting for their results can also be a nerve-wracking time. Help them stay focused by reminding them of the hard work they’ve put in and that they can potentially re-sit exams if they don’t get the grades they want – there are always options! Remind them that comparing themselves to their friends or siblings might not be the most helpful – their super power is being themselves and following their own path.

Looking for a tutor to help your teen with their revision or to help build their confidence? Tutors can also act as helpful role models and mentors, and can help your teen with self-belief too. Find the right one for them here.

9 years ago
A Level

How New A Level Reforms Will Affect You

As January mock results roll in, summer looms ever closer – and summer exams. Fo... Read more

7 months ago
Exams and Revision

9 tutors on the hobbies that helped them through the exam period

We know that the exam period is one of the most stressful times for your teen. But, on... Read more

5 years ago
Educational Advice

Studying at Christmas: getting ready for January

Studying at Christmas can be very challenging for children; wrapped up in the exciteme... Read more