Ask your teenager how best to support them
A-level results day can be an anxiety-inducing event. Whilst it may sound like a cliché, good communication is key. Sit down with your teenager before results day, listen to their concerns and ask if there is anything you can do to help settle these. Every child is different. For some, an hour’s alone time may be useful. Others may want to jump straight into an action plan.
By being on your child’s side and listening to how they themselves need to process their results, you can help to mitigate the pressure. Open dialogue and a considered approach can help avoid confrontation. By working as a team, you can evaluate options and plan for the next stage.
Preparation is key
A-Level results day is fast-paced and potentially stressful. As there is never certainty around the grades your teenager will receive, gather all key information before the day itself. It is worth planning for a range of scenarios.
Your child is likely to be disappointed if not accepted on to their first or second choice of course or university. A good level of knowledge surrounding other potential options can help to curb the potential stress. The head of customer contact at UCAS advises ‘students to do some research, no matter how confident they are’. Visiting multiple universities and looking at a range of courses outside of your first two can make the clearing process feel less stressful.
The UCAS website will display up-to-date vacancies throughout August, September and into the beginning of October. If you and your teenager have a feel for universities and courses outside of the original two they favoured, you can engage with the clearing process in a more focused way.
Clearly illustrate that you believe in them
A-Level results day can invite unhelpful comparisons, whether that be with siblings, friends and so on. As a parent, it is important to reiterate to your teen that their worth is not dictated by a set of results. Be constructive, warm and confident and offer them your support, whilst exploring their options.
Don’t add to their anxiety
The pressure around your child’s results can be equally stressful for parents as it is only natural for you to want the best for them. The common narrative that good results are the “be all and end all” can compound anxieties across the family space.
With thoughtful planning and engagement, new opportunities can arise that can be equally beneficial to your teenager’s development into adulthood.
Parents are in a good position to set a tone that mitigates their child’s anxiety. Administering emotional first aid is a more productive means to support your teenager’s development than allowing your own disappointment to take precedence. There is no sense in making hasty decisions. Your child’s wellbeing should take top priority.
Encourage self-care during the day to bring strong emotions under control. It will ultimately lead to more productive and useful problem-solving as they navigate their next step.
Carefully consider all options
A-Level results day represents an end to a chapter in your child’s life, but, it isn’t a fixed point. It is the beginning of a process that leads young people to make the transition from teenager to young adult. You and your child need to work as a team to identify the best way forward. There are options for re-marks and re-sits. If you both feel this is the best option, then contact your chosen university immediately and see if they’ll hold your child’s place. If clearing is a better option, then there is more breathing room to look at the different courses and universities available.
The key point here is to make decisions as constructive unit. It is worth sitting down and taking time to weigh up all the options.