Examination anxiety higher among parents than students: Counsellors

  • Aneesha Bedi, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Feb 13, 2016 15:24 IST
Most counsellors said that they have been flooded with calls from ‘stressed parents’ more than ‘stressed students’. (Illustration by Daljeet Kaur Sandhu/HT)

“What can I do to help maximise my child’s marks in the upcoming board examination? “My child puts in only eight hours of study in a day, while his friends study for 13 hours, should I be worried?” “Could you please suggest some ways for better time-management as my daughter is unable to cover more than two chapters a day?”

These are only some of the many questions parents of kids studying in the city schools have been asking on the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) toll-free helpline number and helpline numbers of the UT education department.

Talking to HT, most counsellors shared that they have been flooded with calls from ‘stressed parents’ more than ‘stressed students’.

Isha, a student of government school, Sector 35, likes to take frequent short breaks while studying for the upcoming Class 10 board examination. But, this leaves her father Raju Singh, a driver by profession extremely worried.

“Padhegi nahi, aur khelti rahegi toh number kaise aayenge, iske dost ke isse zyada acche ayenge toh humari kya izzat reh jayegi (If she’ll only play and not study, how will she get good marks and what will be our image in the society if all her friends end up performing better than her?),” said Raju. This isn’t the only example.

Nikhilesh, a Class 12 student of a local private school, who is busy preparing for his competitive exams is unable to give in as much time to his board exam preparation. He isn’t as worried about the board exams as he maintains that the preparation for his competitive exam is more crucial. His mother, though, is having sleepless nights.

Talking to HT, Rita Singh said, “Board exam results are taken into consideration and the mark-sheet is presented no matter where one goes, I don’t know how to get this thought across to my son.”

Talking to HT, George A Thomas, a counsellor for the CBSE toll-free helpline, said, “At times, I have to spend half an hour just guiding a parent to not fret so much, as this can negatively impact the child, who otherwise might just be studying as much even in two hours.”

Referring to a call he received from Chandigarh student only on Thursday, he revealed that stress-related queries pertaining to subject doubts, sleepless nights, last-minute anxiety with time-management are the common themes.

“However, parents come up with more questions related to competition with their friends and others around them, while children ask exam-related problems,” added Thomas.

While Thomas receives about 18-20 calls per day, there are 59 more principals and trained counsellors like him that receive queries on a daily basis within India via CBSE tele-counselling.

When HT correspondent called on the toll-free number pretending to be a student, it was observed that some of these counsellors even share their personal mobile numbers willingly if a child wants to get back regarding an issue.

UT counsellors observe similar trend

For Yogita Khanna, who has been a counsellor for over five years in Chandigarh, it is a common trend noticed year after year and anxiety graph among parents is on the rise.

“Children take stress and are apprehensive, but parents tend to go over-board. They are the ones who need to be counselled more than the kids,” said Khanna who is one of the 14 counsellors deputed by the UT education department to deal with examination-related queries.

Similarly, ED Khan, an English teacher and also a counsellor, said students’ queries end up being more concept-related, while parents ask questions pertaining to stress during exams. “Initially, I used to get about 15-20 calls per day, but I received not more than five calls today,” added Khan, a teacher of GMSSS-35.

The 14 counsellors have one helpline each dedicated to them which began operating on February 10 and will be functional till March 31.

District Education Officer, Vinay Sood, said, “The government schools have 87 counsellors all the year around to cater to the students’ queries. But, during the exam time, 14 special counsellors are specially deputed to cater to the huge spike”.

While private school authorities have counsellors deputed round the year, teachers are engaging in personalised interaction in special cases.

DPS principal Reema Dewan who takes out time to counsel students in her school said, “Besides counsellors on duty, teachers take out extra time in cases where they feel the child needs extra attention.

Even though preparatory holidays are on, students from Classes 10 and 12 can be seen coming for one-to-one interaction with our teachers”.

Kavita C Das, principal, St John’s High School, said, “We have three designated counsellors all year round, who have shared their mobile numbers with students and receive calls up to midnight sometimes. We believe in creating a healthy bond between students and teachers so that the child doesn’t have to undergo any stress.” Commenting on the rise in stress among parents, Das said, “I don’t blame them as competition is so much these days and every parent wants the best for their child.”

Dewan, however, feels this can attributed to a mixture of reasons as ‘high achievers have their own concerns and therefore their parents also feel the stress, while low achievers have their own challenges’.

Regional CBSE director RJ Khanderao said, “Be it stress among parents or children, the CBSE helpline has definitely helped ease things for the stakeholders. We have received positive feedback.”

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