First, parents anxiety over exam results then she’s off to university or travelling – is she mentally strong?


As ‘A’ level results come out today and GCSEs the following week, it is a time of angst, worry and anxiety for both parents and children. For some, it will be a huge blow, failing to get the required grades. Feeling life is unfair and their dreams have been shattered. No doubt there will be a few tears and emotional moments as they search for ways to feel good about life again. It was a life defining moment for me to fly home from holiday and see that envelope sealed within it, my destiny. It could, in a split second, go either way. Tears of joy or despair.

For parents, this is also a testing time, wanting to empower their daughters to shine in their brilliance and be able to deal with life’s curve balls. Exam failure, rejection is not always easy one to steer. Even receiving good results and the delight of them heading to university can soon become overshadowed by other concerns, ‘will she be ok’, ‘keep her head if others are doing drugs or binge drinking’, ‘will she choose relationships wisely’, ‘not be controlled’, ‘will she take good care of herself’…she’s only 17 or 18 years old?]

The reassurance that your daughter carries high level of self-respect and cannot be easily influenced is a much-prized trait – but how do we teach this mental strength? It is a skill of life most of us learn the hard way, ‘that felt awful’, ‘I ruined that opportunity’, ‘wish I’d being more careful’. Every parent does their best, but having the time to teach these skills is an enormous task and sometimes it’s too close. Even at school, there is not enough time to cover all this is PSHE classes once every two weeks.

Teenagers are masters at being secretive, it can feel like getting blood out of a stone.

Instead banging your tired head against a wall, talking sense into them – that is if you actually get their attention. In the current normality of retreating to your room and enjoying virtual friendships 24 hours a day on snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp – there’s even less need to confide their pain to parents. They can chat to strangers and friends, use emoji’s to express their feelings, but keeping it under lock and key internally. “It’s didn’t really matter”,” I’ll be fine”, it’s not cool to care that much about results, shrugging it off is the ‘acceptable’ way to handle it – whilst deep inside berating ourselves into their pillows. It can be a dark and lonely place at 2am, once even the phone friends have gone to bed.

Burying the emotions associated with rejection, self-loathing and failure, mean there is no recourse to fix it. If we can’t admit it to our friends or parents – we leave it to fester inside. Perhaps one reason that the ‘body’ needs to release that that which ‘words’ cannot – frustration and pain, relieved through self-harming


Aside from the doctors, psychologists, perhaps a safe trusted space to open up express their negative thoughts and learning practical tools to handle them in a heathy way may help.

We can’t stop bad things happening but we can learn life skills to bounce back faster to stay on track and make our dreams come true.

‘Stand tall, rise above it and look to the light’ is my motto.

For details about the ‘Girls Feeling Good’ workshops follow this link:


by Riffi Khan

Founder & Creative Director

A feel-good place to empower women and young people to find their voice, ask for what they want to fulfil their dreams. Providing life skills training in authentic communication and mental wellbeing. The starting point is the internal conversation.

She is Head of Communication for who support youngsters at school with real life skills, and has created communication and mental wellbeing curriculum after a successful career in TV as Producer and film maker at