How parents handle their child’s regret upon receiving bad marks will be critical.Picture Cindy waxa.Reporter Ilse
How parents handle their child’s regret upon receiving bad marks will be critical.Picture Cindy waxa.Reporter Ilse

How you can help your child to deal with disappointing exam results

By Michelle Lorber Time of article published Jan 18, 2021

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Disappointing exam marks can result in your child experiencing trauma. Matric exam results could be a starting point for an ongoing feeling of status anxiety. As a public evaluation, it can also become a public humiliation.

The marks your child receives can become a filter through which your child is perceived. Up until now, your child has been relatively cushioned by school and home life. Learners are now evaluating themselves, their friends and peers, based on the outcome of this performance.

It’s a time of strong emotions on all sides. How parents handle their child’s regret will be critical in making the best of what may feel like a demoralising situation.

Delay on holding any talks, conferences or attempts at problem solving for a few days. The nervousness experienced before the exam has turned into a combination of disturbance and dismay and general upset, mixed with doubt.

At this time, parents can be processing their own sadness and pain. The child concerned may be feeling that they have disappointed their teachers and parents.

Young adults are already experiencing a turbulent time. Consider bringing in someone who is trusted by your teen and not a member of the immediate family. This should be someone your child is comfortable with and can relate to. Stay focused on what went well and remain flexible while you talk to people who can help you plan your next move. Don’t rush decisions.

There may be multiple reasons why a learner didn’t do as well as they could have, including self-imposed performance anxiety, peer pressure or unrealistic expectations. It’s also possible that a learner didn’t understand the questions properly or didn’t answer in the best possible way.

Don’t overreact. Negativity and shouting will not help, and will make your child hesitant to approach you about anything again. Even though you are disappointed with the grades, your child should still feel valued. You can’t compare your child’s performance with anyone else either.

Instead, explore alternative career paths and options. Help your child to become more aware of their strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to help your child understand that there are other alternatives.

As it is easier for them to talk to others rather than their parents, let your child get support from other resources and support centres.

The 24-hour hotlines include loveLife, which has volunteering and mentorship programmes but also offers counselling services.

loveLife’s toll-free youth line is 0800 121 900.

loveLife’s toll-free parent line is 0800 121 100.

The Please Call Me Service is available on 083 323 1023.

SADAG also gives your teen an opportunity to interact with support groups and mentor health and wellness professionals. The 24-hour telephonic helpline number is 0800 456 789.

You can also call 011 234 4837 to get in touch with a counsellor between Monday and Sunday (8am to 8pm).

Lifeline has a 24-hour crisis intervention line on 0861 322 322.

The Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline is a support line for immediate relief from anxiety on 0800 70 80 90.

The ADHD Helpline is 0800 55 44 33.

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