girl studying for exam

Avoid Saying This to Your Child During Exam Season

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.

child revisinf for exam3. “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.

How to Help Your Child Cope with Exam Stress: Tips for Parents

exam stress img 2Exam time is here again. This could be very stressful for most children as they work hard for good marks. Many children fear that they will not be able to get best grades and will lose respect of their friends and family and will miss out on career opportunities if they perform badly in exams. In the competitive world of today exam stress or anxiety has become quite common. Our duty as a parent becomes more important when the child is preparing for exams. There are several things that a parent can do to ease the exam pressure and help the child sail through this phase. Here are some tips which parents can follow during exams:

Time management: You as a parent should help your child to manage his or her time effectively and efficiently.  Time management becomes even more crucial during exams. Create a time table for each and every activity, like studying, revision, and make sure to include break time in between, meals, and even self-care. During exams, we seldom realize that our children’s brain needs rests too. Many of us, unfortunately, believe that during exams a child must only be studying. This is quite a misconception and creates extra stress and anxiety. Make time table with your child and put it in the study room. You should also make sure that entire exam schedule is known to you and your child especially if the child is very small.

Don’t add to your child’s stress: During exams, parents should make every effort to ease the burden of the child and not add to it. Parents should have realistic expectation from the child. Remember, each child has his or her own abilities. Having expectations that are too high for the child will only make the child feel more stressed and frustrated. The child might think that the task is impossible and might not even try hard enough. Of course, expectations sometimes act as motivators but keeping expectations that are unachievable will only lead to stress and poor performance during exams. Rather, encourage your child that he can do it and show faith in him. This will help them remain calm and composed during exams. Only a calm mind can perform extraordinarily during exams.

Be there for the child: During exams, parents must convey to their child that they are there for him regardless of the grades. Be an emotional support to your child apart from being physically there for the child. Try to understand the emotions the child might be going through. You might have to curtail some of your outings as well. But don’t create an atmosphere of curfew within the house. The child knowing that my parents will always love me irrespective of my grades is a great emotional support.

Take care of your child: This includes taking care of the food and sleep of your child. Make sure the child has his or her food regularly. Make sure the child eats healthy food only. Fresh fruits and juices should be part of the diet of the child normally but during exams it is all the more important that the child eats healthy only and avoids consuming sugar and junk food as they tend to make the child feel sleepy. Fruits and vegetables, on the other hand, keep the mind fresh and active. Also make sure that the child remains hydrated.

Sleep is another very critical aspect during exams. Often parents, and sometimes even the children, feel that they should not sleep much during exams. This is very wrong. Our brain too requires rest and time to consolidate everything learnt, and this is done during sleep. A good night sleep before exams is very important, so make sure your child gets enough sleep.

Take breaks: Encourage your child to take breaks during preparation. This could be a 15 – 20 minute walk in the park, or some play activity, or could be meditation, watching TV, or talking to a friend over phone. Many parents restrict the child from such activities during preparation as they believe that these activities waste time. This is wrong; just like any other electronic device our brain too needs to switch off for a little while to maintain the functioning. Therefore, make sure that your child gets regular breaks in between preparation.

Discuss the exam and move on: Preparing for the exams is not the only stressful part; even the after-exam discussion could be equally dreadful for some children. Not everyone performs exceptionally well in the exams. Don’t dissect the performance of the child; this might negatively affect the performance of the child in the coming exam. Discuss with them but don’t over criticize, and just move on. You can discuss about the mistakes done and how to improve them in the next exam but don’t shout or reprimand the child.

Exam strategy: Discuss with your child and make a strategy about how to attempt the question paper. Suggest techniques to make answer more presentable, which questions should be answered first, how to divide time during exams, etc.

Stationery: It might sound trivial but many times, children sit in the exam and later realize they are not carrying pen or other stationary items and end up wasting time by asking others. You as a parent should make sure that the child has enough pens, pencils, or rubber etc before exam and during all the exams. Make sure that the pencil-box or kit is filled with working stationary items and not with used or empty pens. This might seem like a little thing but it can save a lot of time during exam and help avoid undue anxiety.