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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014
How parents can help build confidence
Dr Jitendra Nagpal, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, February 26, 2014
First Published: 10:49 IST(26/2/2014)
Last Updated: 10:53 IST(26/2/2014)

Board exams are the time when children look up to their parents for help and support. Even small parental gestures of comfort can work wonders for their child’s performance in a board exam. Parents just need to understand what they can do.

First things first, have realistic expectations from your child as per his capabilities and interests. Don’t black-list activities that your child enjoys, such as watching TV, playing games and sketching etc. Also, avoid nagging. Gentle reminders are welcome from time to time. Remember that providing a healthy, positive and empathetic emotional environment is crucial, which parents often forget.

The biggest mistake parents make is comparing their child with other students and their achievements. Avoid it; else it can discourage your child. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

Don’t ask them about exam readiness
Every time you ask children about how they have prepared for the exam, it makes them feel stressed and  increases their anxiety levels. As a parent, you feel tense about their preparation, but when you talk about it you transfer your tension to them. It is not that you need to stop asking them but do it in a way that does not make them angry. Stop probing them.

Group study is not a bad thing
Every child is different. If your child feels that he is able to study better in a group, then it’s all right for him. Some students do prepare well by studying in groups, as they are able to discuss their doubts and feel encouraged to study better.

Set a target score 
Their motivation to achieve something may not be affected positively by your ttelling them how much they should score. But if you wish to do so, settle on a target after a dialogue with your child. Do not serve as  a pressure point.

Learning and ­retaining
Help him/her to concentrate on preparation rather than worrying about marks. You can ask your child to regularly review the time table and make changes in it according to the progress made. Encourage your child to give you short tests during the revision.

Develop a positive attitude towards the future
Parents have an immensely important role to play to help a child develop an optimistic attitude since they are the first and foremost source of the child’s development. Parents need to play the role of a good communicator as a friend, as a comrade, with whom a child can communicate every day. Your expectations from your child go a long way in influencing the child’s mind.

A child be made aware of his parents’ feelings through their expressions verbal or nonverbal, their stress and their unfulfilled dreams. These things unknowingly affect children and dim his or her positive attitude.

Little things like these would be helpful: sitting on the dining table together, watching television together, taking a walk with your child during the examination days, ensuring a pleasant environment at home.

Failure is not ­harmful
It is important that children learn how to cope with failure. If they don’t manage the first time they can try again. It is important for parents to know what they can do to help their children cope with disappointing results. Not every parent is confident to help with schoolwork, but at least you can teach your children how to listen, take responsibility and improve their work. Thus, children will learn that through their own efforts they can get the results they want. Children will learn that failure can be a springboard to achievement in the future.

Your children need to know they will feel delighted with the results of some tests but that other tests will leave them feeling devastated. It is important they know that tests are about what they know and not the sort of person they are. It is important they know how to cope whether tests make them feel delighted or devastated.

Symptoms to look out for

# Frequent mood swings and frequent sad moods
# Crying spells
# Avoiding friends and going with others
# Somatic complaints like aches and pains
# Reduction or loss in appetite
# Lack of sleep or sleep disturbances
# Too much anger or irritability

The author is a senior psychiatrist and incharge, Institute of Life Skills & Mental Health Promotion, Moolchand Medcity, New Delhi. Send him an email at hteducation@hindustantimes.com, marked ‘Dr Nagpal’


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