There are exceptionally high numbers of cases between November till February referred from schools/colleges or walk-in parents with concerns related to behavioural changes and academic issues among students, and one of the main cause is exam pressure. Exam time is not only stressful for the child but also for the parents. So, let’s say parents also go through a testing phase during exams. Parental support is crucial during exam season. It not only affects the performance of the child but their overall well-being during the examination. So as an ideal parent the responsibility of a parent is to take exam load and stress off their child and not to burden them more.
- Try to Stay Calm Your child is already dealing with his/her share of stress and can do without you adding to it. So, avoid burdening your children with your stress. It’s understandable that you’re stressed, probably even more than your child. But when the exam date nears, it’s time to not let your nerves can bother your children.
- Set Realistic Expectations Every child is different. You have to trust your child’s abilities and set realistic expectations. Know that your child has a limit and will only able to perform according to his/her ability. So, accept their limitations.
- Avoid Digital Distractions It’s difficult to stay away from digital devices completely, but it’s important to do so during exam time. Install parental controls on electronic devices so that you can ensure they keep away from distractions and focus on doing their best during exams. With this you also try to stay away from phone, laptops or any other digital device, your time in front of devices can distract your child as well.
- Be a Support System Make sure to be around your child, particularly during the important papers. However, you don’t need to put your life on hold for your child’s exams. Speak of only positive outcomes and stay aware of their needs and be available to address any concerns. Make it clear to your kids that your love and regard for them is in no way dependent on how they perform in the exams. It is good to make them understand the importance of the exams, but it should not be done at the expense of their mental well-being. Your words hold a lot of merit. There are statements that you should avoid, such as, “Your future depends on this exam”, and “If you want to do well in life, you must do well in these exams.” These statements could scare them and create a feeling of fear, which might hamper their performance. You should simply use statements such as “perform your best”, “It is just an exam, your future would depend upon your hard work and not just marks”, etc.
- Know exam schedule Last minute rush is not good for anyone or anything. Pin a copy of the examination timetable on the kitchen notice board. You should also note the date and time of each paper. Make sure you are at all times aware when your child has to be in the examination center. Sit with your child and make a daily planner and keep a copy with you as well. This keeps the study well-paced and gives time for revision.
- Enough Sleep Make sure that your child is getting at least 7-8 hours of sleep. A good night’s sleep is very important for your child. Check your child’s timetable to ensure they have enough time for a well-earned sleep. This will calm nerves and keep them alert on the big day. A good sleep will increases memory and lowers the stress levels.
- Continue to socialize Don’t isolate them in the study room. Contact with their peers is very important to maintaining their spirits during this time. You can also support them and lift their spirits when they are taking a break from their studies.
- Listen to the story After each examinations, allow your child to recount to you their daily story, and don’t pressurize if they don’t. Do not be tempted to review in detail the errors or omissions they may have made in answering the paper in question. Such process can increase stress levels. Simply allow them the time and space to tell their story and move on.
- Monitor and Identify any Warning Signs No matter how well prepared a student is, they tend to feel anxious during exams and are worried about their results. It is really important to ensure their mental well-being by checking with them at regular intervals. While being nervous/anxious to some extent is normal, but if the child is using negative statements such as “I can’t do it”, “I am a failure”, I won’t be able to do anything”, then it could be an alarm. There are some other signs in extreme cases, such as loss of appetite, irregular sleeping pattern, irritated mood, anger issues, loss of patience, etc. that could indicate that the child is not keeping well, or is taking undue stress. Keep a check! If you observe any odd behaviour or changes, it is the time for you to intervene. Talk to them about it or consult their school or college counsellor.
Be with them and let them grow independently.
Case 1: Surbhi’s Mother, who was a topper in her school and college days, has same expectation from her daughter. Surbhi, who is preparing for her SSC board, feels too pressured and is performing poorly in academics from past few months. Father noticed changes in Surbhi’s behaviour such as, poor confidence, low self-esteem, feeling anxious, unable to concentrate, changes in appetite and sleep. Surbhi is taking regular therapy sessions and is performing well in studies.
Case 2: Jay who was always an average student, have supportive parents who does not pressuring their only son to perform more then his capability in his HSC exam. But he fill pressured by looking at his friends and wants to do well so he can achieve well. Due to this Jay started feeling low in confidence, isolating self, feel low in energy and spend whole day in front of books but flip pages mindlessly all the time. Jay was on therapy for few weeks and scored 72% in his HSC Exams.