I saw him shiver wildly for a moment before another bucket of cold water was poured over his head… by his father. He managed a sheepish smile amidst shouts of Holi Hai and ran inside to reinforce his ammunition of gulal and pakka colour.
I didn’t want to play spoilsport in the middle of all the revelry but couldn’t help myself from pointing to his father that Abhinav doesn’t seem to be feeling too well. “Oh, he’s alright,’ his dad brushed away my anyway-not-so-great-concern. He then turned to a mutual neighbour, “We never stop Abhi from enjoying. Even though his board exams begin day after, we are totally chilled out.” Then I got it.
Abhinav’s father was from a new breed of ‘no pressure’ parents — those who take pride in reminding themselves, and everyone, that they don’t put undue pressure of studies on their kids - but go overboard in the process. In a country where academic stress, leading to depression and suicides, is an unfortunate reality, it has become rather fashionable at kitty parties and social gatherings to shake your head and say, “God knows how some people put so much pressure on their poor kids during exams. We NEVER do that.” And in the name of not putting pressure on the child, I’ve seen some people go rather berserk.
There’s a friend whose daughter does not study or do homework unless the television is on. A couple takes their teenage son out for dinner on the night before every exam— whether the boy wants to go or not— because they read in a magazine article that it’s important to have an ‘enjoyable’ atmosphere for relaxation. What’s more, my colleagues tell me that there’s a trend of having ‘study parties’ during exam days. When kids get together at one house, and studying is interspersed with dancing and revelry. The other day, Bubbly aunty was telling a friend, ‘I encourage Aditi to talk on the phone for a few hours the night before the exam. Putting restrictions on the child is so not happening these days.’
Well, putting undue pressure of studies on kids was never a cool thing anyway. But I have my doubts if going overboard in trying to do the reverse is also doing any great favour to your child. The reality remains that examinations, till the time they exist in our system of formal education, have to be given some amount of seriousness. The trouble is that we don’t know a healthy balance between being ‘helicopter parents’ (those who hover around their child and impose curfew at home during exams) and those who do not bother if the child is up all night chatting on the net.
The key, according to me, is to first understand the person that your child is. Horrible generalizations never work when it comes to kids, and every child has a different aptitude, inclination and pattern of studying, especially during exams.
Some kids can study till very late at night, some prefer to go to bed early and get up early too, to revise the stuff. But no matter the age of the child and whether he/she needs help in studying, what every parent ought to be doing is, provide a conducive atmosphere to supporting ‘what your child wants to do.’ If the child wants to study for an exam at any time, forcing him to ‘take it easy’ is as much a pressure as imposing curfew on someone who’s not studying enough.
3 Tips to keep in mind :
1. Remember to understand the individual requirement of your child, without a comparison or generalization.
2. Be around during exams as they may need help, but let them figure out their own study pattern in peace.
3. Do not ‘force’ anything in the name of enjoyment and relaxation at them. Just giving them the confidence that you’ll be proud of their hard work, no matter how they fare, is what would work wonders for their personality, not an exam score.
Sonal Kalra didn’t notice when the advice of parents changed from ‘study hard’ to ‘party hard’. Did you? Mail your calmness tricks to her at firstname.lastname@example.org