Parenting to Deal With Exam Stress
It is human nature to have some pressure before any examination but board exams create extra panic due to several psychological forces and thought processes working on the minds of the students. If not taken care of, sometimes the pressure gets translated into anxiety leading to nervousness. Anxiety and nervousness together get translated into exam stress leading to depression.
Unrealistic expectations blend with lack of regular concentration and consistent behaviour create circumstances that exert pressure of performance on students. This pressure plays havoc during the period of exams in general and board exams in particular. The performance pressure can develop exam stress, fear of failure and anxiety. This some times results in long term impact.
It is human nature to have some pressure before any examination but board exams create extra panic due to several psychological forces and thought processes working on the minds of the students. If not taken care of, sometimes the pressure gets translated into anxiety leading to nervousness. Anxiety and nervousness together get translated into exam stress leading to depression. Examinations are a part and parcel of a student’s life. Since these situations cannot be avoided, certainly the students have to prepare themselves to face them with confidence and ultimately come out winners. Some stress is natural and is considered to be effective and helpful as it leads to alertness and consistent behaviour. It is natural to have goals in life. All students set their own goals but of course, some do so due to parental expectations. Some students do not behave as per the need of their self-decided goals which leads to a mismatch in their goals and behaviour. This mismatch increases stress. Following are some stress causing agents:
Pressure due to Lack of Readiness:
This is by far the most common and relative reason that causes exam pressure in children. If any part of the study material is left uncovered, feelings of anxiety are natural. Further, last minute studying also increases this anxiety factor. It is therefore important to make sure that a student begins his or her preparations well before the exams. A hurried last minute study does not register well in the memory and self-confidence drops, thereby raising anxiety levels.
Pressure from Family:
Often we come across children feeling bogged down due to the pressure of expectations from their family particularly their parents. There is an unfortunate tendency in some parents to fulfill their dreams through their children and in this process they fail to realise that they are exerting undue pressure on the young minds at a very tender age. Each student is a unique individual. But the practice of comparing the grades and the fear of comparison raises the anxiety levels further.
The family at the time of exam plays a very important role to create calmness in the students and retain their focus. A word to parents: As a parent, your child’s exam performance is a constant source of anxiety. These days, parents find themselves in a rather precarious situation. There is little you may think you can do to guide your children in developing useful study and test-taking skills. You might also be unable to deal with the stress and anxiety that exams invariably generate.
It is all about attitude! The will to defeat the exams and to conquer is the first condition of victory.
- Your concern for your child will bring confidence in him.
- Have faith in yourself and your child as an individual. All you need is patience, understanding and communication with your child.
- As a parent, you must ensure that you do not ‘push’ your child against the wall of ambition that you have built for him.
- Make sure that your child gets over his hesitation and develops a healthy rapport with the teachers by looking on them as his guides and friends.
- Evaluating concepts.
- Analysing past papers.
- Consulting the teacher about doubts and difficulties.
- Talking to fellow students about their preparation
- Convincing your child about the usefulness of a schedule of study for exams by giving examples from real life and surroundings.
- Encouraging him to take a break after a long study session.
- Sitting with him, communicating and asking him whether he is feeling confident or needs any help.
- Keeping track of how well he sleeps, eats and exercises during these days.
- Exam time is particularly stressful and children easily fall prey to cheating. The biggest reason that children resort to cheating is the fear of doing poorly at exams; fear of rebukes from parents; fear of humiliation after the result. As a parent, one of your biggest responsibilities is to minimize such ‘fears’.
- Avoid comparing past performances, as it will only develop a feeling of inadequacy.
- Parents have the power to decide the overall environment in the house and the activities during the exam days.
parents need to help the child to deal with: It goes without saying that physical fitness is a must during the entire life of a person. It is also said that ‘a sound mind lives in a sound body’. Paying attention towards common health problems will help students perform better: Body aches and Muscle tension: Head, neck, shoulder, back, and other body aches often result from a progressive buildup of muscle tension brought on by a stressful, physically inactive day or week. During the period of preparation of exams parents need to help students recognize muscle tension when it begins, so that it can be prevented from turning into uncomfortable aches and pains.
Help your child recognise what may be causing him stress in the first place. Is lack of proper preparation for exams causing this ache? Is procrastination causing his loss of sleep or sitting hunched over the books or computer for hours? If you notice trends like these, try to give him a break when you sense those stressors kicking in. During the few minutes of down time, teach him to take some deep breaths, stretch or go for a walk. ‘Laughter is the best medicine’ so try doing something that will make him smile and take his mind off what is stressing him.
Indigestion: Indigestion is an irritating and sometimes painful anxiety symptom. Whenever the child is in stress, his brain tries to coordinate with stress management and digestion. But most of the times, when we are in great stress, the brain fails to coordinate these processes thus indigestion occurs. The same thing occurs during examination time. A balanced diet chart and proper physical activity is the answer. Parents must lead the child from the front during his exam days.
Sleep difficulties: It is very common to have disturbed sleep due to late night studies without any physical activity. This leads to improper sleep and hence impacts the physical and mental well being. Seven to eight hours of sleep is a must to keep your child fit during exams. Give your child the last meal at least two hours before bedtime. Avoid heavy, greasy, rich, or spicy food in dinner. Spare some time to listen to any nagging doubts your child has.
And finally remind your child of your love and support without reference to the outcome of his exams. Let him know that you are aware of his hard work and effort and that you are extremely proud of him regardless of the marks he scores in his exams. Take time to remind him that his entire future does not depend on one particular exam and you know that he has worked hard to achieve the best possible grade and it is not the end of the world if his score isn’t what he had hoped for. Your support will go further than you think in reducing his stress. Keep in mind that exams are for life and life is not for exams.
Dr. Prabhat Kaushik is a Master Trainer, CBSE, Ministry of HRD, Government of India, Director General, Zee Learn Ltd, International Trainer & Assessor, Motivator, Educational Catalyst and International leader. Dr. Prabhat is highly passionate about rekindling education. He is one of the most sought after educationists for gifted and talented children and has extensively travelled globally for the same. At the global level, he has established a large number of schools and is on the governing body of many organisations. Dr. Kaushik is an International Leader, British Council (U.K.), for sharing educational best practices in British schools and benchmarking with Indian schools including exchange programmes and training for all stakeholders.