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Parenting in Exam Fever | Kashmir Observer | #parenting

By Wasim Kakroo

EXAM time has never been an easy phase to go through. The feeling of a knot in your gut combined with parental and peer pressure, can be overwhelming. While some argue that a certain amount of stress and nervousness is necessary to keep the pressure on when studying for examinations, constant stress and anxiety can lead to some unpleasant scenarios.

When we’re stressed, our brains release a lot of stress hormone-cortisol, which can muddle our thinking and prevent us from making reasonable decisions.

What are the various signs of exam stress?

Children and young people who are stressed may:

• worry a lot
• feel tense
• have headaches and stomach pains
• not sleep well
• be irritable
• lose interest in food or eat more than normal
• not enjoy activities they previously enjoyed
be negative and have a low mood
feel hopeless about the future

What causes exam stress?

Exam anxiety is caused by a variety of factors.
Worry that they will fail
They don’t feel ready.
They want to do perfectly well.
They feel they don’t have a lot of time to study.
Need to achieve a specific outcome
Find it difficult to comprehend what they’re studying
Family puts a lot of pressure on them to do well in exams.
They believe they must compete with others.
Some other stressors are bothering their life at the same time.

It can be beneficial to have someone to talk to about their exam pressure. Young people should be encouraged to discuss their anxieties and keep things in perspective with the support of a parent, tutor, or study buddy.
Encourage your child to speak with a member of the school staff who they consider to be helpful. If you believe your child is struggling, speaking with their teachers may be beneficial.

Following are few strategies that might be helpful for parents to consider helping their children deal with exam stress:

1. Make sure your child eats well.

A well-balanced diet is essential for your child’s health, and it can also help them feel better during exam times. High-fat, high-sugar, and high-caffeine meals and drinks, such as energy drinks, cola, candies, chocolate, burgers, and chips, cause hyperactivity, irritability, and moodiness in some children. If at all feasible, involve your child in grocery shopping and encourage them to select healthy snacks.

2. Assist your child in getting enough sleep.

A good night’s sleep improves one’s ability to think and concentrate. The majority of teenagers require 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night.

Allow your child to unwind for half an hour or so between studying, watching TV, or using the computer and going to bed to ensure a good night’s sleep. It’s not a good idea to study all night before an exam. Sleep is significantly more beneficial to your child than a few hours of frantic last-minute studying.

3. Exams require you to be adaptable

Be adaptable when it comes to exam times. Do not be concerned about unfinished domestic chores or dirty bedrooms when your child is revising all day. It is possible to help yourself by being calm. Exams do not last indefinitely.

4. Assist them with their studies

Ascertain that your child has a comfortable place to study. Inquire about how you may assist them with their revision.

Assist them in coming up with practical revision ideas, such as creating a revision calendar or obtaining former papers for practise.

Encourage your child to consider their life goals and how their revision and tests relate to their goals in life to keep them motivated.

5. Exam anxiety is a real thing

Reassure your child that feeling nervous is normal. Exam anxiety is an understandable emotion. Validate their anxious feelings. The goal is to channel this anxiety for good. Encourage your child to practice the activities they’ll be doing on exam day if nervousness is getting in the way. This will make it feel less frightening. Doing practice papers under exam settings, for example, or viewing the exam hall beforehand, are examples of this. This should be something that the school staff can assist with. Rather than avoiding these activities, encourage your child to face his or her concerns and complete them. Encourage them to consider what they already know and how much time they’ve already spent studying to make them feel more confident.

6. Encourage your child to exercise during their exams

Exercise can help your child feel more energized, clear their mind and make them feel relaxed. Walking, cycling, swimming, football, and dancing are all beneficial forms of exercise.
Activities that involve others can be especially beneficial.

7. Set up parental restrictions on the phones and tablets of your child.

Many teens may get distracted by digital devices at exam time. Parental settings in the form of various parental control softwares that can be installed in their electronic gadgets allow parents to disable apps and websites that are a distraction for children, allowing them to use their devices for what they were designed for – studying.’

8. Don’t aggravate the situation

Many children believe that their family is the major source of the pressure during exam time.

Listen to your child, encourage them, and avoid criticizing them.

Be reassuring and encouraging before they take a test or exam. Make sure they understand that failing isn’t the end of the world. They may be eligible to retake the exam if things do not go smoothly.

Encourage your child to discuss with you what he or she did in paper after each one. Instead of focusing on the difficulties they faced or mistakes they made, talk about the parts that went well. It may increase their morale.

9. Allow for treats

Discuss rewards for doing revision and passing each exam with your child.

Rewards do not have to be large or costly. They might be as basic as preparing their favorite food or watching their favorite show.

Help your child celebrate the end of the tests by planning an end-of-exams treat.

The following is a list of things that you should not do as a parent during your child’s exams.

1. Asking the child if they are learning enough should be avoided at all costs.

2. Anxiety and hanging around the child, offering obnoxious counsel.

3. Never put the child down or make fun of them for not sticking to their own plan.

4. Negative behaviors of children should not be criticized in an aggressive manner, such as by shouting and threatening severe consequences.

5. Labeling your child as “irresponsible, thoughtless, or lazy” because of his or her actions is a big no-no.

6. Never force the child to use your knowledge and study at your pace.

7. During tests, never force the child to help around the house.

8. When your child admits he is stressed, you become more anxious, take command, and decide what to do.

9. Talking only about school, grades, and future success will put the child under even greater stress.

10. Never make this a “make or break” situation by over-emphasising the importance of earning a good outcome and the blame and hardship your child will suffer if he does not.

  • The author is a licensed clinical psychologist (alumni of Govt. Medical College Srinagar) and works as a consultant clinical psychologist at Centre for Mental Health Services at Rambagh Srinagar. He can be reached at 8825067196

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