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    January 4, 2016

    Will GCSE mock exams lead to a wave of panic attacks?

    Even though everyone knows that ‘mocks’ are not as important as the real thing, the feelings of fear and apprehension they create among many youngsters are nonetheless all too real. We’re entering mock season right around now and children up and down the country will be filing into halls and given a taste of what the real deal next spring is going to feel like. It can be a very stressful time – and unfortunately, kids can be pretty awful at talking through their feelings.

    If you have a youngster about to go through this, I would heartily recommend trying to empathise with what they’re going through, as opposed to the relentless pushing that some parents (abeit well intendly do).

    At my hypnotherapy practice in London I sometimes speak to parents who seem overwhelmed by the importance of good grades and of children doing really well at school, and they sometimes seem oblivious to the day-to-day issues (like fitting in) that also occupy teens’ minds. Parents are sometimes seriously stressed that they can’t get through to their children – but they forget that their kids are often gripped by anxiety, too.

    When the dread of exams becomes overwhelming or they get off to a bad start, it can certainly lead to mounting feelings of panic among children. It can be one of the most stressful periods of their lives thus far.

    Pressure increases anxiety

    Pressure from parents to succeed is likely to make an already-worried child even more anxious. Think of them like a pressure cooker – and every question, every worry, every reminder that they need to work hard adds a little more steam.

    Often parents won’t think anything of saying, “How are you doing in class?” or “Are you all ready for your mocks?” Perfectly innocent questions but easily misconstrued – especially when asked repeatedly. Yes, you want to show you’re interested, but your child might not see it that way. Subliminally, the message that they are actually hearing may be: “Shouldn’t you be trying harder?” And so the pressure builds. A more positive and conversational approach might be better – using open questions such as, “Is there anything I can do to help make the mocks a little easier for you?” or, “Do you want to try any revision on me or talk about anything for your exams?”

    Hypnotherapy is a very good and proven way of helping parents deal with stress, which is a common problem for many people in all walks of life. Many of us struggle on with mild forms of stress every day, while others find the weight of their perceived problems almost too much to bear. The secret to beating stress is to learn some effective coping strategies so that the next time you are in a situation where the pressure could easily rise, you are able to stay calm.

    Use hypnotherapy to beat stress

    At Fix My Mind, we use hypnotherapy and NLP to help people realise that stress is a problem that can be fixed. We help them find ways to beat stress and handle their day-to-day life with a different, calmer mindset.

    If your son or daughter’s own anxiety about school leads to a panic attack, try and stay calm and try and help them to get to somewhere quiet and private so that they can get through the episode without having to deal with additional people watching – that could easily add to the problem. Try and help them control their breathing by counting with them slowly to 10, and pepper this with positive comments. In this way, you can help the body recover and the episode to pass.

    And if their mock exam results do turn out to be disappointing, it might be worth taking a pause before talking to your gloomy offspring about it. What’s done is done, and a verbal bashing from mum or dad – no matter how loving and concerned they may be – is only likely to make kids feel much worse. Give it a few days. Then look for positives and ways to move forward.

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