No TV, no phones, no hanging out with friends… Talk of board exams, and there is a blanket rule at most homes: Don’t waste your time on anything but books! Parents, beware. It’s time you stopped burdening your children with the weight of your stress. Says Dr Jitendra Nagpal, senior psychiatrist at Moolchand Medcity, Delhi: “During exams, like the students, their parents too are under high levels of stress. This is because the parents’ expectations from their children are too high, since in our academics-driven society, grades still play a major role in the choice of course and college for higher studies. Parents often equate the performance of their children with their own standing and prestige in the society. Parents should refrain from this attitude and instead adopt a ‘we-are-with-you’ approach (with respect to the child).”
Now, here’s the surprise. Experts say that some amount of stress can be good, for both the parents and the children (of course, it should never escalate beyond manageable limits). “To deal with exam anxiety, treat boards as any other exams. Also, stop telling your children that these exams are the key to a good career and their future. Most parents make this mistake and it is an attitude that only to the child’s anxiety,” says Geetanjali Kumar, a parenting coach.
Nagpal suggests that constant reminders to the child on the importance to get good marks overstrains their mental capacity, and making them tense about the results only makes the situation worse.
Another important thing most parents fail to understand is the need to tell their children that success and failure are nothing but just two sides of the same coin. How many of us tell our children that while it is important to score good marks, failing doesn't mean the end of the world? Says Delhi-based teacher Kashyapi Puri: “My daughter failed in Hindi when she was in Class 12 and somehow managed to scrape through in the Math paper. But because I was supportive, instead of ­getting disheartened, she ­started focusing on subjects that she liked. She was with Google two years ago and is now a make-up artist. She learnt from her academic failures to adopt a healthy approach to life.”
Talking about her anxieties, Nandini Singh, a bank employee, says: “I want my child to sit for at least eight to ten hours every day. But she wastes a lot of her time watching TV or talking to friends on phone.” Nagpal says it is not anything to be anxious about. “Studies should not be like a punishment. Instead of making children sit for continuous hours, allow them to enjoy studies. There is a limit to how much human mind can concentrate. It is always advisable to take short breaks, so that the child can maintain a balance between studies and other activities.”
Agrees Neha Kashyap, a HR professional: “My son will be appearing for his Class 10 exams this year. I encourage him to make his own schedule, giving himself enough time to listen to his favourite music or go out to play soccer with his friends. Instead of making a timetable for him, I let him study at his own convenience, be it daytime or at night.”