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Helping Children Manage Exam Stress with Stephanie Haynes
Episode 7113th October 2022 • How Not to Screw Up Your Kids • Dr Maryhan
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In this episode Stephanie shares her strategies as an educational consultant and coach for supporting children and teens as they navigate tests and exams. 

Whether your children are taking tests which measure their progress, exams to get into their next schools, or exams at 16 and 18 which are likely to determine University or career pathways you’ll want to listen to this. In fact I found so many great tips for talking to our children about life and challenges - beyond tests - so you’re in for a real treat. 



Here are the highlights: 

(03:11) A test grade does not define our children 

(08:37) We live in a comparison culture 

(13:48) Teachers and parents need to use the same language 

(20:27) Separating our identity from what we do 

(22:01) The football analogy 

(27:37) Taking the anxiety out of tests 


Also mentioned in this episode: 

Ep 051: Helping Children Feel Confident About Their Future with Stephanie Haynes 


Connect with Stephanie: 

Visit the Website 

Follow on Instagram 

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Subscribe on YouTube 

Follow on Facebook 

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Hello, and welcome to the How Not Screw Your Kids' Podcast. So pour yourself a cup. Find a comfy seat and enjoy the conversation. This is episode 71 and today's episode, Helping Children Manage Exam stress. Are we talking with the wonderful, incredible Stephanie Hays? You may remember I interviewed her in episode 51 when we talked about helping children feel confident about their futures.

Now in this episode, Stephanie shares her strategies as an educational consultant and coach for supporting children and. As they navigate tests and exams, so whether your children are taking tests or exams, which measure their progress or exams to get them into their next schools or exams at 16 and 18, which are likely to determine university or career pathways, you'll want to listen to this episode.

In fact, I found so many great tips for talking to our children about life and challenges beyond tests. So you are in for a real. As usual, there is a give an incredible resource from Stephanie to help you, as well as Stephanie's email address if you want to get in touch for more support as ever, all you need to do is head over to my free resource library, dr Mary, where you'll find the link To download the resource.

All you need to do is pop in your email address and you'll get instant access not only to this. Resource, but all the other free resources across all my other podcast episodes As ever, if you enjoy this episode, I would love it if you could follow and review this podcast so that others can find us and we can spread the love.

So until next time, here's Stephanie.

I am super excited because I have managed to get Stephanie back. Stephanie Haynes is back, and this time we are talking exam stress and how we can help and support. Now you could have children who are gonna be taking their kind of year two sat or they're taking their year six sat, or they might have common entrance or they might be taking GCSEs a levels studying to get into.

Or get into law school. So we're gonna be talking the whole thing. So Stephanie, welcome

back . I'm so glad I get to come back. Thank you so much. I love getting to chat with you and hopefully inspiring your audience. .

Oh, well you shared so much with us last time when we were looking at careers and helping our children choose that sort of post, you know, when we are looking at their career.

So go back to that episode. Um, if you haven't listened to that one, that is incredible. So I'm imagining that people are gonna be listening to this thinking. Oh my God, how do I help? Cause I get, I guess there's a couple of bits to this. There's the actual, when they're in the midst of it, in terms of managing the stress and the anxieties that they've got.

But I'm also guessing there are probably some top tips around helping them prepare in the first place to avoid that. Mm-hmm. .

Yeah. You know, one of the biggest things is as, as parents, we have the opportunity to help our children. See beyond the test grade and the, and the immediate result that might happen, Right.

It, it, a test grade doesn't define our children. It doesn't define their ability to be successful in their life. And sometimes we tend to operate in that mentality of, Oh my gosh, if our child doesn't pass this well or doesn't do well on this, they're not gonna be successful in whatever it is they're trying to.

And that is not true. They may have to do it more than once, especially the, when we're talking about the L Cat LSAT and the MCAT and so on. Or they may not get exactly what they wanted right at the beginning, but that doesn't mean that they won't still be successful. And so we need to think about how can we change the language around the value and importance of this particular test.

Now, I understand when they're younger grades, these are marks about where they are academic. That does not mean they're limited at that point and they will never be able to recover. Nor does it mean that they will at some point not be able to catch up. This is what we can do with our kids and say, Okay, this is just where you're at right now.

That doesn't mean anything. You are still learning. Your brain is still being developed. We still can keep moving forward when you get to the bigger tests that seemed to dictate career entrance and avail. Just because you don't do well the first time doesn't mean you can't one do it again, and doesn't mean two that you're over that.

That's it. You can never be that. That's not the case. And so we can help our kids get that perspective and then develop the accommodating resilience that needs to come with that. And that just means that we can look and say, Okay, so we tested here. What do we know about you here? Great. We know that maybe structured education the way it is isn't your right thing, and that's okay.

So what can we do to help you learn about who you are and find value in that while you're still trying to make it through? What traditional education is about for you at this point is not a definer of who you. .

Yeah. And that's so key. Particularly, I mean, I'm only just gonna give the example in terms of medicine is that obviously the traditional route will be that you would go straight away and leave school and you'd study medicine.

But actually there are other route into medicine that aren't necessary the traditional route.

Correct. And I think those are often overlooked because they're not talked about as much there. There's not as much experience with that. And so our cultures tend to. Well, maybe they're not as good. I know everybody else is going path A, so I should go path A two because if I don't, maybe it's not gonna be right or maybe it's not gonna be good.

But path A has been proven, and I think that overlooks so many different opportunities because none of us are the exact same. So for all of us to say we have to fit into one narrow definition or one narrow pathway to get to some place limits who we. You might be a better medic. For example, if you took time in between finishing, you know, high school or you know, whatever that grade level is before you go into medical school.

By spending time, you know, working in a gap season where you work in a medical facility, maybe you do an internship, maybe you'd go off into the Peace Corps and you're working with, you know, Doctors Without Borders or whatever that looks like. Maybe a whole bunch of other opportunities are gonna be better for.

One, because they give you experience. Two, they help you network. And three, they really give you a concrete insight into, is this really what I want? So if this is what you really want, then it becomes a different background behind why you're actually gonna study, right? Why you're actually gonna pour into, again, to do this kind of testing.

And that can be a whole different maturity level that happens as well. You know, we know scientifically now. Our brains are not fully developed until about 27 for women and about 30 for men. So we're asking 18 year olds to be able to prepare their brain enough to be ready for medical school. And if they don't, we label them failures.

Are we kidding? What does that really mean? Why could you not wait a couple years, do something else, and then become a doctor and work through that process? There's this spit up. We have to do it right now. Right now, right? But maybe we're not ready for it. So let's look at alternative pathways to get there and see what that does for us.

And that raises such an interesting thing, Stephanie, because I think it's this notion that there's two bits that I've, that I've sort of picked up already from you. There's an a certain element about managing our expectations as parents. Mm-hmm. . And there's another element about managing our children's expectations.

So the, the sort of, I think as parents, we often get sucked into these, particularly when our children are being. Even from a really young age that we forget our, you know, this notion that our children develop at different rates. So just because they are aged 8, 9, 10, 13, 16, 18, we all peak at different times in our development is at different times.

So I think that there's an element, there's a piece about how we manage our expectations.

Yes, absolutely.

And then there's, So can you talk about that a little bit more? Definitely. About how we can, because I know that when you, we had the podcast episode before we talked about how. There's really subtle things that we do without realizing it as parents in terms of how we communi just inadvertently communicate things about expecting them to go to university.

Mm-hmm. , without realizing we're actually saying that. So I'm guessing we're doing a similar thing when it comes

to tests. Yeah, absolutely. And I think a big part of it comes primarily when we're with other parents and we talk about the test results and it starts when our kids are. Where are they on the percentile of weight or body size or head size or whatever, right?

We have all these things. Are they in the 90th percentile? Are they in the fifth percent? And we get worried about are they not catching up? And we tend to forget that no, these are just generalities. They're not meant to be specific. This is what you have to do to be a human being that's going to be successful.

Right? And so I think that conversation starts with our parents and then we get around those parents and we realize, Oh, okay, my child isn't like, Oh, maybe I need to do something different because they're not like that. What do I need to do? And then we start doing all these other things to change the language because we want them to catch up or be like the, you know, other kids.

And we don't really even, Oh, aren't even aware of this. I think it's just part of the culture of what we have. This is a very big comparison culture that we live in, and there's very narrow definitions right now what success is, and I don't think that, Effective at all. I think it's much more detrimental to us as parents and our relationship with our kids, and it's detrimental to our kids unless we can stand up and help them see.

That is a definition. That doesn't have to be your definition, and I'm gonna be here to support you as we develop your definition together and you get to help me understand what that looks like.

Gosh. And that's so true. God, you'd take literally taken me back to those days when you'd have conversations with, with other parents around.

Mm-hmm. , were they sleeping through the night? When did they start walking and when they had they able to read and what reading stage were they? It's just Right. You don't realize it's actually rife with it,

isn't it? Right. It absolutely is. I mean, I used to remember thinking, my daughter, she's strong willed, like you wouldn't even believe and she was never like the other.

She'd be climbing over stuff and jumping into stuff and all the little girls would be sitting there playing dolls and she'd be all over the place. I'm like, What is this? And I thought, I have to control her. I have to make her do these things because this is what she's supposed to do. So I'm just as fallible, right?

I'm not, My kids went through the same kind of stuff that when I'm like, Oh, they have to be a certain thing. Until I started paying attention, and this was a, one of the gifts of homeschooling that I got was I got to be with them and say, Oh, you aren't like everybody. But there's a way for you that you've been designed to be successful.

I just have to help you figure out what that is. And I think that's what we can do as parents is really work hard to keep comparison out of our parenting and comparison out of our conversations with our children. And instead help them uncover how amazing they are and the potentials that they have to develop into these incredible adults in ways that we may not even understand yet.

But that doesn't mean they won't be incredible. And that's kind of that mindset is letting go of success or being a good person has to happen in a certain way, in a certain pathway, and that's not true. Can we step back and say, my child gets to develop their own pathway. How can I help them figure out how to do that the best way for themselves?

Yeah. And if we're,

I guess if we're. Aware that that comparison, you're so right, that we can be great at just having that conversation with our children and saying, You are unique and you can be whatever you want to do in all of the pathways. And being aware that these results don't matter. But the minute we are in a room with other parents talking about these results, we, you can just sense that kind of you're getting sucked into.

That whole discussion and that whole comparison. So I think just being aware and maybe even having a bit of a pact with your other half if you are parenting together or other friends that just like, don't let me get sucked into it. Remind me before we go that these are the things that

matter. Right. Or even just speaking with your parenting friends, whatever stage you're in and say, Okay, listen, how can we start talking about and celebrating how our kids maybe aren't the.

What is so great? Tell me what's great about your child. Let's talk about that and let's celebrate that without feeling like we don't have that. So we might not be right, and let's celebrate other children who are different from each other because that's how they're supposed to be. And let's make that okay.

And we can have that discussion. And I think once we start as adults thinking differently about that, I think the stress level that comes around exams dramatically drop. Because we are no longer so focused and conscious and pressured by how or having our kids to have to do really well, that they start sensing that and realize, okay, this isn't the end all.

B, all this isn't my pass or fail test in life. This is just a example of where I'm at right now, not a finer of my future.

Yeah. And I think children can very much sort of feel the room and the atmosphere and the energy that's there, and if we. Not just saying that those results don't matter, but we are really feeling it and it's a truth.

Right. Then they can sense that, and that at least takes some of the pressure off, doesn't

it? It does it, it really does. And you know, the, the best approach here would be if teachers and parents would start using that same language. To say, Listen, this is a marker of where you are right now. This is not defined who you are or what your life will be like.

We're just gonna take what we get from here and we're gonna move on to see where we can go and what we need to do to help you get wherever it is you want to go, not where we think you're supposed to go. And I, that's a big lofty goal that I have because there's so much standardization built into education for obvious reasons, but just changing that language.

Can alleviate the stress and pressure that a student feels when they're coming in to take those standardized. . Yeah. Which is

great. And we, there's certainly been examples, certainly in the UK of schools that have sent letters to children at the standardized tests when they've been younger at sort of seven and also 11, saying exactly that, that these are just, that this is no reflection on who you are in any way, but obviously that isn't widespread.

And we have standardized tests for reasons. . Mm-hmm. , uh, and they can be beneficial because they can benchmark where children are at. Mm-hmm. , But they also bring with them this element of comparison and judgment that, that children are not as good as others.

You're right. Yeah, absolutely. They do give benchmarks.

They do help us see where kids are, where holes might be that they might need to have filled, you know, where exceptions might be that they're doing really. It's just that at that point, customizing their education pathway after that is not always as easy to do. So that test becomes, we have to catch them up or we have to make sure they're doing something differently.

Yeah. So let's move on to a situation where, and it'll be different across just the various different countries that listen to the, to the podcast episode, but let's say our child is actually taking an exam that isn't about benchmarking per se, but is critical to their next step in their education.

Mm-hmm. their next pathway, whether that's getting into law school or medicine, or whether it's a case of actually getting enough. Getting the right grades to get on another pathway in terms of courses, right? And the inevitable stress that comes with that. How can we support

our kids? Yeah. You know, that's a really great question.

And I think part of it comes from, from the mindset, right? We create a lot of stress for ourselves by keeping, telling ourselves, if I don't do wellness this, I'm gonna fail. If I don't do well in this, I'm never gonna go. So we have to change the way we talk to our. And students are no different in this, so how can we help our kids identify how they're talking to theirselves?

One of the greatest examples of this, my, my son was a kicker for our football, American football team. He's also a soccer player, so a football team. But he was a kicker and he was, he was struggling when he was trying to kick it through the uprights, and his coach asked him, What are you thinking when you're kicking it through?

He's like, Well, I'm saying don't miss, don't go to the left. Don't go to the right. He's like, Yeah, what happens? He's like, Well, I go to the right, or I go to the left, or I miss. He's like, Exactly, Why don't you say hit it through the middle? Hit it through the middle, because then you're giving yourself where you're going rather than where you don't wanna go, and that's what your brain's thinking.

That one little twist in his thought process changed everything, and he went on to break records in his high school and do all kinds of great things. I think we can do the same with testing. It's not about, if I fail, I'm gonna be a problem. It's about what do I know? How can I show that? I know. What, what do I get to do when I get this?

Where am I going with this? What, what is important about this for me? And when you can do that, and again, this is hard for 16 year olds and 18 year olds to do. Again, their brains are still ton developing. But we can watch our kids, we know when we're getting, when they're getting overwhelmed, and we can say, Let's take a break.

Tell me what you're thinking about right now. Tell me how you're talking to yourself. Right. Would you let anybody talk to your brother or sister like this? Or would you let anybody else talk to you like this? Let's change that dialogue and see what it does. So I think that's one of the things that we can do within our home is, is just that we can also create the environment that allows for discussion and integration of the material into more than just the test.

So if you have a child that wants to take the LSAT or wants to go to university or wants to take the mc, So let's have the conversations about medicine. Let's have the conversations about law. Let's have the conversations about university thought processes and discussions. Let's make that part of what you do on a regular basis.

So it's not this, I have one life over here and then I have to change everything to get into my life to get ready for this test. Right? It should be all about, because if you really do wanna become a lawyer or you really wanna go into. These are things you should be going through your brain anyway. You should want to change the system or affect this or whatever you wanna go into that, those industries forward.

So it should be part of the conversation and as parents we can help them talk about that. And they're gonna roll their eyes because they're 16 and 18 and they really don't wanna have anything to do with us. That doesn't mean you stop talking about it. It doesn't mean you don't start pointing things out and let them roll their eyes.

That's okay. You don't, they don't have to love what you're doing, but it doesn't mean that you back away cuz they. Right. So make that part of your everyday discussion and remind them, huh, You know, there's more than one way to become a doctor. There's more than one way to become a lawyer. Let's see where this goes.

And if this doesn't get you the result you want, we'll find a different way too, right? So it's opening up that, let's make it real about what you're gonna be. And then let's also talk about, this is not the end all. Be Hall to getting into this pathway. If you really wanna go to medical school, you may have to take this test.

Two or three. Okay, so what doesn't indicate anything other than you just need to have some help working through testing. That's okay. You're still gonna be a great doctor. You're still gonna be a great lawyer. So I think that's, those are some some two really big things that we can do without even talking about actual study habits to begin with.

Does that make sense? Yeah,

completely. I meant I love that making it feel real, because actually that's such a tangible thing. If you do want to. You know, an interior designer or you want to be a doctor, or a dentist, or a vet, whatever it is, actually that's gonna become a huge part of your life. Then why are we not having those discussions around it and actually helping them live and breathe and as you say, taking them away from this in this, you know, I'm either a student or I'm sort of trying to become this thing.

Mm-hmm. and actually merging those two together.

Yeah, I agree. Because if you think about us as adults, right? We have, we try really hard not to make our identity about what we do. So we need to help our children not make their identity about what they do. But we do get immersed in that learning phase, in that training phase.

We really, that's all we really eat, sleep, or drink, is about everything we're trying to accomplish so we can get into that profession. So let's help them start that when they're younger, just. We can talk about it, but it doesn't mean they don't go out and play. Doesn't mean they're not still smart of a sports team, doesn't mean they aren't doing things with their friends.

That's all important. So how can we help them learn that balance and that their identity is not only in this one thing? Does that make sense? Yeah,

completely. And are there ways, is there a benefit in trying to help them? What I often find is that you can get children that. Are struggling with their confidence, but they may be super confident in something, a sport, for example.

How do we, Is there a connection, I guess I'm asking and, And if there is a connection, how can we help them? So for example, there might be skills that they show in their sport, whatever that might be, that have some relevance to what they're trying to do in terms of their studying, but they don't necessarily see the connect.

Mm-hmm. .

Absolutely. Cuz we've done a really great job separating sports from school. Right. They're two different things and yet the processes and the determination and dedication that you have to put into both of them are the same. Right? We've talked before. My son is a student athlete, even at university, he's a student athlete.

He has learned that this what, how he pours himself into the field and training and practice needs to show up in the c. Because that's who he is. He is this driven kid that knows he has goals that he wants to achieve, but they're not only on the field, they're in the classroom because both of them get him where he wants to go, right?

Yes, he would love to pay professionally if he could ever do that, but he also knows when and if that doesn't happen or if it ends, he needs something else. So they're, they're not separate, they are combined for him. We can do this thing, We can use all kinds of metaphors and analog. To how you train for a sport and how you train for a test.

They are the same kinds of techniques. So you don't go into a game without having practiced and gone over things, over and over, over plays and whatever is that is you don't go in without having worked out on your own and making sure you're hydrated and making sure that you're eating right. Well, so is same as testing.

Eat right, hydrate, get the right sleep, get the right training for yourself, not only mentally, but physically. Let's stay at practice. Let's do that study. And by studying, I don't mean just reading over stuff. I mean getting immersed in this subject. You know, if you wanna be a veterinarian, you should probably hang out with pets a lot, right?

You should probably be working through what does it mean to have a cat and or have a dog, or do a turtles, depending on what kind of vet you wanna. What, what are the symptoms of when they get sick? What? How do you know? These should be things that you're doing on a regular basis anyway, So that can be part of the training that you're doing for the big test day, right, which is game day.

And that also includes what else do you need to learn? And so if we can help kids see it's the same. And while the results may also be the same, you may not win the way you thought you were gonna win. You go back and you do another game, you go back and you do it. Right. Or at some point you decide, okay, that sport's not for me.

Great. Maybe this pathway isn't for you either. And that's. I

love that, that the, I love. Okay. I've just literally had, I mean, as anyone who knows me, knows that I am such an Oprah fan, so I've literally had an Oprah Aha moment, . But this whole idea that actually when we're thinking about tests, if we kind of reframe it, and I think if we're able, because I think sometimes maybe it's just me.

I love analogies and I think it works. The analogy works really well for me, but in essence, the test. Is the game. You wouldn't just go into a game expecting to be able to perform really well. So the training is not just the revision, but how you immerse yourself in terms of food, in terms of exercise, in terms of nutrition and hydration, but also how you immerse yourself in the subject, which isn't just your flashcards, your mind maps, and your essay practic.

right? I mean, if you think about it, you know, here, American football, they're constantly watching game day footage, right? So they go back, they look at the footage that they had, they learn from what they did or didn't do well. They examine and pull apart things well along the pathway of maybe trying to go to medical school.

There are multiple markers for you. There's multiple game day footage You can go back and review how did you do on your chemistry course? Or how are you doing in your chemistry? What are you doing in math? How is that looking for you? Where do you need to go and make some changes so that when you get to the big game day, you are as successful as you can?

and that, and that

analogy was obviously we are using an analogy in terms of sport. Your game day may well be if you are in drama school, it might be the production. If you are a musician, it might be the performance. Mm-hmm. . But actually it's, it's really using language and a framework that our children can understand and they all understand either a performance or a game.

And that analysis is so

crucial. Yes, it really is. And we, you know, we don't need to separate the two. They really don't need to be separate because they do think they enhance one another. And people will say, kids are in sport, develop all kinds of skills, which I would agree with, but you can't have one or the other.

They should be together. You can't be this amazing football or basketball or whatever star and drop grades and really not be paying attention to your academics. They have to go together. And so I think as. Even, or as students who are listening to this when we're thinking about your future or their futures, trying to find analogies for them based on what they know, whether it's a performance in in music or ballet or whatever.

Trying to help them tie the two together helps them make solid connections. And when they have those connections, cuz they make sense, then they understand it like creates for you and like everybody else at that Aha. But we don't always do that. We tend to think it's studying is over here and sports and all your other stuff is over here, but they're not.

And very often we can get into our children's brains through their activities that they do outside of school and using those analogies to help them understand the school, the school part of their life right now. Oh my

God. That is just, so what I'm guessing if we start having those conversations and using those analogies when our children are young.

then we are beginning that preparation. Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . And then it becomes just a la a language that they use all the time.

Mm-hmm. . So let's say you're a young parent listening to this, and now you're learning, okay, let's, let's not compare, let's call out the amazing differences my child has and let's celebrate that with my group of friends.

Now if we go back to the previous podcast, we're talking about what do we see in the world around this in terms of options for careers that they might go into? And then let's talk about all of the different ways you can look at a quote test. What, what, what would make most sense for your child when they're thinking about the outcomes of that test or the opportunities with that test?

How would my child best relate to it rather than, this is a test you have to do well in it, otherwise you won't have. That language, that fear-based language does nothing for your child, but cause anxiety for them. And then they go into the test fully anxious and they don't do well because they can't think because there's too much anxiety going on their brain.

So you've actually just hurt them by saying those things. And actually,

if we reframe it instead that the test, particularly when we're looking at younger children, is a way of understanding what might be your best next pathway, Where are your strengths? Then it becomes actually that test. Or that game is exploring whether that, whether that is right for you or not, and how best to then move on and develop with it.

Right, exactly. You know, and to continue that sports analogy, how many times do you play a different position on a field to figure out where you might best fit? That's the same when you're thinking about anything else in your world. Just because you might want to be X doesn't mean that X is the right thing for.

Maybe it's over here at the, you know W, which is a better fit for you and therefore you'll be happy. So it is about exploring options and not saying it's a one path only placement.

Stephanie, I'm . Literally I'm, Every time you and I speak on my mind is absolutely blown because it is just it. You make, it makes it, you make it sound so simple.

So I guess what I'm going to do, I'm gonna slightly play devil's advocate because I know there'll be people listening to this who are in the thick of the stress. Maybe. Mm-hmm. , so maybe they've not, they now are thinking, Great. That's great. Stephanie and Maryann, thank you very much. Next time I will do that.

Or maybe with the next child. Right. But I'm literally right in the middle of it. Are there any tips that you can give parents that are currently in it now with a super stressed out child?

Yeah, absolutely. In fact, I'll, I'll share, I'll lead with this, my daughter. She will be 25. Gosh, she'll be 25 and November blows my mind.

Um, and she left university very disappointed. She didn't, did it, didn't work out the way that she wanted, and she was spiraling and she was panicking, and I don't know what to do with my life. I don't know how to do all these things. And it was through a series of, of what I call like coaching questions, just asking open-ended questions and helping them see when they're being negative about themselves.

Like say, my daughter would be like, I'm never gonna be good at anything. I don't wanna do anything I don't even wanna do. So. Well, what do you like to do? What really does make you happy? Well, I like art, but that's not very gonna make any money. Okay. So making money is important to you, but you like art.

What other ways does art play out in the world? Where else do you see this in the world besides being a painter? Through that series of conversations, she decided that cosmetology school was her thing and she's now designing her styles and colors and I can't even tell you what she's doing and she's gonna change the whole system and she's gonna build a school.

And I mean, the girl went off, but she just needed that opportunity. But she was in the thick of that stress go backwards, just a few more years before that. And she was trying to figure out, do I go to college? Do I not go to college? What do I do? Everybody else is going to college. I don't know if I can do it well on the test.

I can't do the test. I don't know what to do. She would wear her sail up so much. But we did, We decided to say, Listen, this test, it means nothing about your intelligence. I want you to go in cold. We're not gonna talk about it. You're gonna walk in cold. Now, when I'm talking about the testing here, we're talking about what's called an A C T or an S A T, and this is what universities and colleges use to help determine whether a student can get into that college or university.

So this is not necessarily the MCAT or the lsat, although I think some of the same principles. What we did say to her, just walk in, just get, get a feel for the test. Just see what happens. And she did and she was able to say to herself, Oh, it's not as bad as I thought. Cuz everybody talks about how hard it is and how awful it is and you have to, she, she just needed to get in there and see it.

That's how she operated. So we gave her that opportunity. But the l l LSAT and the mcat, you might be able to do that. They're much more expensive to pay for. So it's a whole different boggy mirror thinking those things. So it might not. But let's back through. Let, let's say they're in hereby high school, so ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th grade, whatever that looks like between 14 and 18 kind of thing.

And so let's say they're panicked. Oh my gosh, I have to do so well right now. Cause if I don't do well, I can't get into college, or I can't do this, or whatever. Okay, so let's back up a minute and let's ask ourselves, is that really true? And when you make a kid think about that, is that really true? If you don't do well on this test that you are going to fail at life, is that really.

Um, they're gonna fight you. They don't wanna talk about it. They don't, You don't understand, mom. You don't understand, Dad. Yes, I do. So let's just think about it. And even if you don't go anywhere further with that discussion, you've put that seed in their head, right? Sometime you just need to plant the seed and see where it goes.

Do you really think that that's going to be the way your life is gonna go? That if you don't get in, you're never gonna do anything in this world? Is that how you're designed? ask those questions and whether or not they engage doesn't matter. And then you can do other things like, listen, I know you're stressed about this test.

Let's go take a break. You need to take a break. Let's go. And we'll go, you know, whatever that thing looks like for your kids and you to go do together. Or, um, if you know, worst case scenario, bring in the favorite aunt or uncle or bring in the best friend and say, You gotta get him outta the house and away from this stuff.

They're going nuts unless reinforcement when you need. Um, and don't blame yourself. This is not your fault as a parent that your child is like this. It's not. No matter what happened, whatever parenting regrets you may have, they're not permanent. So at this point, you can reset, you can start speaking differently.

You can change things if you want. There's no permanence in parenting other than whether or not you change. So grow and change and adapt based on what you wanna do and help your kids do the. And I think that's the best way to make it through. The thick of it is it's just a season. You're gonna be in the thick of it the next season too.

So how do you wanna live in this, this season so that you can enjoy the next one a little bit differently? Oh, I love

that. And as you say, challenging, just starting by challenging their assumptions and being okay with them, not necessarily wanting to then open up a discussion because we often. We drip feed that little bits of information.

We assume that just because they've kind of riled against it, and they said, Oh, you don't understand that. They're not thinking about it. But they do. They go away and they think about these things.

Oh, they do. They really do. Especially when it comes from parents. We forget how much influence and power we have in our children's lives.

They want more than anything to make us. More than anything, even kids who come from a home, that might not be a positive experience. What they really want is for their parents to love them and for and to make them proud. That's it. So how can we as parents indicate how much we love our children and how proud we are of their accomplishments to date, and how proud we are of the potential they have in their future, and allow them to explore what that looks like and really truly believe in them.

That changes everything for a.

Yeah. And I think if there's always this underlying message, which you've talked about, that they have time, that they have space, and that there isn't a one only route mm-hmm. to almost every career that they can conceivably think of. Mm-hmm. , there are multiple ways to

get there.

Yep. Absolutely. You know, one of the things that I, I tell a lot of the students that I work. Who are not quite sure if they're gonna fit the traditional mold. And so they've kind of put their dreams on hold or they've kind of put 'em off or worse, they have made it so much about that, that they're so tight and anxious, they can't figure it out, and they don't know if they're gonna fail.

And they're so worried about they don't sleep, they don't eat their anxiety levels or through the roof. It's, it's ridiculous. And I don't mean ridiculous as in absurd. I mean, it's absolutely mind blowing. Ridiculous. Like how does this happen for a child? Right. So we talk about, Well, do you know that there is these five other ways to get there?

95% of the time they've never heard of it in their life. They have no idea. They had no idea that if you took a year off after school, that it gave you a chance for yourself to develop and to explore. And there were structured ways to do this. So you really weren't sitting on your parents' couch watching TV all day, that there was a way for you to do this and explore the world, and it didn't cost you a ton, and you could get all these skills and all this experie.

Like, Oh, I had no idea. Or if you go to the military, now this is a whole hot button. Hot topic button, and I know it. But when you think about the skills and the training that you get, it's top notch and front lines aren't where everybody goes. Now, this is all different, and I'm just gonna caveat with that, with, depending on where your country is at this point.

So let's keep that real. But one of the best interviews I ever did was with a naval officer who said, if you work on an aircraft carrier, it's like working in a small city. They need everything from chefs to veterinarians, to um, people who do your hair right. They need all of that. So why not go in, have them pay you and have them pay you to train and you get everything you need, plus the experience.

So when you're out here in the, in the United States, they get college paid for. I don't know what that's like where you are, but. There's a lot of opportunity, and when I talk to teenagers about that, they're like, I didn't know. Okay, let's talk about community college. Let's talk about an apprenticeship.

Let's talk about an internship. How can that help you? And they, I don't know. That's not their fault. We don't, How would they know? How would they know? Yes. So how can we help them learn about those alternative pathways and make them all okay? Because it's what's best for them. Not what everybody else is doing

because they all end up in the same final place.

They just, you know, there's a difference. When we look on a map, we don't all have to go the fastest route, the motorway or the highway route. We can all choose a more scenic, more enjoyable, Oh, I wanna visit these places along the way.

Right? I mean, what's the rush? Do we really think we're gonna die at 40?

So we have to get everything done before? And you know, we have a longer life expense than we've ever had in the in the world for the most part, depending on where you live. So why not enjoy it a little bit more? Why do we rush at 17 and 18 to have to get into the career right? Then? Do we really need to do that?

Is that really the best way for you as a human being to enter into what you want? And those are the questions we can encourage our kids. Ask. Yeah, I

love that. And I think that's probably what we need to end on, is this idea about what's the rush? Let's allow, let's give time. Um, and know that there's no one route that is better than any other.

There's just the best route for your child. Mm-hmm. .

Yeah, absolutely. And you brought up a really good point. You know, we have a lot of different listeners who are like, Well, what do I do about this? This is great stuff, or this is great, Dr. Maryanne, but what about. Listen, I don't, I'm happy. If you wanna reach out and ask me your questions, please reach out and ask me your questions.

I don't want this to be a, okay, that's all. But I don't know how to fix this. I don't know what to do. Okay, let's talk. I don't, I don't mind that. You can just send me an email if you want. It's That's easy, right? And just ask away. And let's see. We can come up with I prob, I don't guarantee I'll have a perfect answer, nor do I guarantee it'll be an easy.

But I think together we can probably figure something out. Oh, I

love that. We'll make sure that we share in the show notes. Um, Stephanie's email again just in case. Cause some of you might be keep rewinding to try and get Exactly, but we will definitely share it in the show notes and also the free podcast resource.

Stephanie, thank you again so much. I'm so grateful. Thank.

You're so welcome. I'm so happy to be on here. So thanks again for having me back.





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