What Not To Say to Your Teenager
Teenagers. Bloody hell they’re tricky, right? I mean, don’t get me wrong, they’re adorable creatures – funny, smart, opinionated, interesting, purveyors of marvellous new music, sources of most excellent YouTube funnies, genuinely brilliant company, … but also as predictable as a cat in a force ten gale that’s being asked to wear purple boots.
They won’t get up – then complain they don’t have enough time to do their laundry. They leave the contents of your crockery cupboard scattered across their bedroom – and then declare it your fault that there are no clean glasses. And heaven forbid that you actually mutter a helpful phrase in the midst of their struggles. Incandescant rage may follow – door slamming optional but frequent.
Throw in the stress of a few exams that, like, literally affect THE REST OF THEIR LIFE and there’s major trouble brewing in the house that used to be filled with a sweet happy helpful small person.
So to help you navigate the murky waters of Examdom, here’s our Insiders Guide On What Not To Say to Your Teenager.
1 – “Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. “
Trivialising their very genuine fears, and just adding fuel to the ‘you actually have ZERO idea how hard my life is’ fire. Of course they’re worried. Their, like, entire future is, like, at stake here. Duh.
2 – “You Got This”
Blatant lie. They haven’t got this, or they wouldn’t be up til 2 in the morning trying to, y’know, get this. And enough of the pressured expectations, okay?
3 – “This really matters, you do understand that, yes?”
The unacceptable opposite to Option 1. Always received as code for “once again, you’re apparently failing to live up to my expectations and disappointing me”. Big mistake. Huge.
4 – “You can’t possibly be working with Netflix on, plus your phone constantly buzzing”
Remember how many times you tried to convince your parents that you needed the Walkman on full volume to help you concentrate? Yeah, your parents didn’t get you, any more than you get the need for SnapChat, WhatsApp, YouTube, Insta, Discord and Tumblr.
Their ability to multitask across screens is second only to their ability to wither you with that eyeroll headed your way two nanoseconds after you utter this.
5 – “Have you actually done any revision today?”
If they have, you should know, duh. If they haven’t, they don’t want you to know. And if you compound this mistake with the double whammy of then making them work, it’ll be a sulky reluctant moody mess which is of no benefit except for their now righteously justifiable ability to look up FML memes.
6 – “As long as you do your best”
Stop. Now. Every teen ever (in the history of ever) absolutely believes they’re doing their best. You sound patronising, with a little ‘frankly we never expected that much of you. Well done you.’ thrown in. Condescending AND disappointed – two wins in one.
7 – “When I took exams…”
No. Irrelevant. Don’t care. They don’t believe you when you say you suffered the same way, because your solutions are OLD and entirely extraneous. They already know you believe your exams were ‘harder’ and/or ‘proper’ (oh yes you do)’, thereby making any sympathy you express fake and meaningless.
8 – “Wait, they give you the answer in the front of the exam paper?!”
No, I don’t claim to know why a maths exam paper gives the necessary equations to solve the questions right there at the start either. Best just to not mention it.
9 – “Do You Want Me To Test You?”
Tricky – it’s a reasonable offer of help. But either a) it’s code for ‘I don’t believe you’re learning anything, I want to check you really have been working’. Bad. Or b) it starts in a mood of surprised goodwill, but you quickly find yourself in irritated conversation corners like ‘but you should know this/can you turn that music down/well surely that’s not right/when I did my GCSE’s we didn’t need to cover this…’
Road to nowhere. Desist.
10 – ” … “
Frankly, no matter what you say, you’re going to be irritating.
My top advice? Feed them. Provide cups of tea when they look tired (but don’t speak, obviously; just place it silently near their elbow and retreat in quick order). Leave surprise gifts of nice food treats on their desk. And change their bedding for them – everyone loves a clean fresh bed when they’re tired and stressed.
Lastly, simply refrain from anything beyond a mild but genuine ‘how’s it going?’. Sympathetic, un-judgy and open. I mean, you’ll still be irritating, obviously, but in my experience it’s about the best you can do.
Collins Revision use repeated practice throughout their GCSE guides to make the information ‘stick’ in the student’s brain longer. This ‘revision that sticks’ method is a proven way of doing better in the exams. #RevisionthatSticks
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