The examination season is upon us, and the world of Internet is replete with articles and guidelines and tips and tricks for students on how to manage their examination stress. However, the onus of managing this stress does not lie on the students alone. Parents can and should play an important role in helping children brace for, and manage this critical phase in life.
Why this guide for parents?
While most modern parents are aware and conscious enough to understand the importance of their role during examinations, they still tend to lack the kind of structured approach and understanding that is often needed to lend a meaningful support. What parents need is not just a sense of the specific needs of their child but also an access to ideas and approaches that can help them address those needs and concerns.
What can parents do?
While a list of all the things that a parent can do to help manage their child’s exam stress is endless and highly subjective, broadly, there are three universal ways which can be useful to all the parents irrespective of the child’s specific temperament and circumstances.
1. Monitor the signs of stress
Children get particularly vulnerable as the examinations get closer, and may start exhibiting signs of burn out or extreme stress without even registering them consciously. In such situations, it our duty as parents to keep an eye out for the signs of extreme mood swings or stress, and address them in a timely and effective fashion. Different children have different ways to decompress, and most parents are aware of what helps their child unwind. As parents, we must be ready and willing to do whatever is needed, and make time and space for activities that help your child de-stress. Your child’s mental well-being is not just important for her examination performance but for her overall physical and emotional health. Irrespective of what age or standard your child may be in, parents must cultivate a conscious practice of keeping tabs on the stress signals of their child and take remedial steps accordingly.
2. Diet and Schedule
Time management is fundamental to ensure success in any endeavor. Most children find it hard to structure their time, make a schedule and most importantly stick to it. It is easy to scold our kids and instruct them to make a schedule. But, in our experience, telling your kids to make a time-table and actually helping them make it are two entirely different things. No points for guessing which approach actually delivers results. Parents cannot reasonably expect their children to be able to follow a schedule on their own. You need to be hands on in these matters and help your children structure their time effectively. It might mean that even you may have to stick to a defined time table so as to be able to support them, but we always request parents to realize how hard it is for their kids anyway. A little bit of support and sacrifice from them can go a long way in helping their children manage their time.
Diet is of course an essential corollary of this very support. It is the parents’ duty to ensure their child’s nutritional requirements are adequately met, that they eat on time, in small portions and frequently so as to keep their energy levels high and their brain well-nourished.
Counter-intuitive as it may seem, but the greatest favor that any parent can do to their child is stay relaxed. Parents stressing over their children’s examinations is normal and natural. But it is equally normal and natural for your child to pick up the stress cues from you. We understand that it may not be easy but for the sake of your kids, you have to make sure you are not too stressed. Don’t forget to take care of yourself while you worry about your child, make space for things and activities that help you relax and make sure you keep an eye on the larger goal, that is, the overall mental, physical and emotional well-being of your child. Marks and examinations come and go, but in the long run, an emotionally healthy child will grow into a resilient individual who will be able to face any challenge and succeed in any endeavor she takes up. You must remember that examinations are not the end of the world. You have to remember this so that you can help your child remember it too.