It is quite normal and understandable to be concerned about your child’s performance in his or her exams. But sometimes parental pressure and too much expectation from the children lead to stress and anxiety among them.
Have you ever thought that the phrases you so casually and unconsciously say to your child during the exam season might be disturbing your child’s composure and, in turn, adversely affecting his exam performance?
It is pertinent, therefore, to be mindful of what you say and what you must not say to your child while he is preparing for his examination. Some such sentences and phrases are given below:
1. “I expect you to get. . .”
Never use this phrase with your child. Burdening your child with your own expectations and ambitions can do more harm to your child’s mental state and his exam performance than you can even imagine. Your child would anyway perform according to his own abilities and mere pressuring and nagging him for a better result cannot guarantee it. Let your child learn about success and failure on his own, while you instill the faith in him that you will be there for him irrespective of his or her result.
What PM Narendra Modi said in Pariksha Pe Charcha-2020 is relevant in this context. He said, “Children should be pursued not pressured into studies and parents should see that they also have ample amount of time to commit to extra-curricular activities.”
Thus, more than your child, it is you who need to learn that every child has his/her own strengths. Good marks in exams is not the only and ultimate way to success, and failure is not the end of the road.
2. “Don’t you think you should be revising?”
It is not bad to keep track of your child’s progress and activities to a certain extent, but don’t let your concern for your child turn you into a helicopter parent during exam days. Your child might need some time to unwind during preparations. Don’t get too anxious the moment you see your child without a book. Allow him the time and space to replenish his stressed mind. Offer the child your help if required, but if he/she refuses, do not insist. Treat your child as a responsible individual and let him know, in a subtle way, that you trust him to make good use his time.
3. “Are you sure this is the best way to revise?
There is no single best method of preparation. Every individual has his own approach to understand and retain information. Just because your child is revising the syllabus in a way quite unlike the way you would, does not mean his discretion has to be doubted. For instance, just because your child revises the syllabus with music on, doesn’t mean his preparation would go waste entirely. Also as a parent, one should understand that the school prepares the child adequately about how to revise. Trust and allow your child the space by letting him adopt the method that works best for him. But at the same time, be ready to offer suggestions if the child feels lost and comes to you for help.
4. “It is going to be fine.”
There are certain phrases that you often say to your child for expressing support. But you might not know that they can also have an opposite effect on the child’s mind to what you intend. Exams are stressful and when your child expresses his or her anxiety, the seemingly reassuring but vague phrases like “It’s going to be fine” don’t really work. What is required, on the other hand, is that you acknowledge that it is okay to be stressful and even after the best preparation, a child can be worried about his performance in the exam. In such a time, it is essential to make the child understand that one can only do one’s best, and that’s enough. Tell him to focus on making an honest effort instead of the result.
5. “You will regret it if you don’t put any effort in!”
This is something many parents must have said, at least once, to their child during exams. Putting in an effort is definitely very important and every individual comes to learn it as he grows up. Your child is still to learn about all the brutal truths of life, which, he or she will eventually learn about, but in his/her own time. Until then, expecting him to act like an experienced bloke is not justified.
The statement “You’ll regret it if you don’t put any effort in!” would hardly serve any good purpose because “regret” is such a strong and scary word for a young mind that it would unnecessarily make the child apprehend danger and uncertainty. If you really want to help and motivate your child, try saying positive things such as, “Honest, intelligent efforts are always rewarded.”
6. “It’s going to be all over soon.”
This seemingly harmless phrase is rather a bit tricky. Saying “it’s a short period, we’ve got a holiday coming up” to a child who is too anxious about the upcoming exam, is not a bad thing but it may backfire as some children might panic thinking they are short on time. Therefore, keeping the child’s nature and possible outcome in mind, you should or should not say this to him/her. A better way to calm your anxious child is rather to talk about pleasant future scenarios without hinting at time frames.
7. “Your cousin got these grades in his/her exams. Let’s see what you get!
This is something you should never say to your child—NEVER—because not only this comparison will put undue pressure on the child to surpass his cousin but may also spoil his equation with his cousin since the child would henceforth see his/her cousin as a rival. Wanting your child to perform to the best of his abilities is understandable but comparing him with other children will only make them feel unsupported and judged. Your child might already be aware of the grades of other children around him/her. You need not overstate it. There are better ways to motivate your child than this. Already there are so many children who fear that they’ll disappoint their parents.