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Home / Columns / A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: It’s exam time for parents, too!

A Calmer You, by Sonal Kalra: It’s exam time for parents, too!

And, therefore, parents need calmness tips as much as their kids do.

columns Updated: Mar 03, 2018 17:55 IST
Sonal Kalra
Sonal Kalra
Hindustan Times
Parents are constantly dealing with the stress of teaching the kids on the one hand, and being stressed on the other, about not passing that stress on to them.
Parents are constantly dealing with the stress of teaching the kids on the one hand, and being stressed on the other, about not passing that stress on to them.

All these years, I have written so many times and so much about the stress of examinations from the students’ perspective. And most of these write-ups invariably also end up putting the onus of all the pressure, on the parents. But the reality that there is as much, if not more, stress on poor parents themselves during the dreaded exam season, can’t also be ignored.

Khud parent ban ne ke baad pata chalta hai that the examination monster attacking your child is like a sequel to the horror movie you saw during your own school time. There’s just SO much tension at home during exams, and parents are constantly dealing with the stress of teaching the kids on the one hand, and being stressed on the other, about not passing that stress on to them.

Itni baar ‘stress’ word likh ke mujhe hi stress ho gaya hai. The point though is, that it’s a really tough time for parents… and they need calmness tips as much as the young ones taking the exam do. And, here come my humble suggestions:

1. Remember that your child is not… you

I know, it sounds silly, phrased like that. But, I’m trying to make a point that we, as parents, are prone to assuming that our children are mini versions of ourselves. That whatever is easily understood by us, should also come as easily to them. What we really need to remember, is that apart from the fact that they are an entire generation apart, our kids are completely different, distinct, individual beings. If you were always great in Mathematics, it doesn’t mean your child can not find it to be a subject entirely beyond his or her comprehension. It might frustrate you to see that your kid isn’t getting a simple solution to a simple problem…but then that just may be the case. An English teacher’s daughter may well be grammar challenged, an artist’s son may be poor in drawing, a university topper’s offspring may have trouble getting pass marks — we have to come to terms with accepting our child the way he or she’s been wired. The key is, to not let your own personality come in the way of dealing with the personality of your child.

2. Remember that your stress affects your own child

What you radiate, the universe around you absorbs… right? Then isn’t it obvious that your stress is bound to increase the already high stress levels of your child? Since you are an adult who understands the futility of stress better than the kid, I’d say that the onus is more on you to ensure that there’s calmness at home during exam time. Your face, your words, your body language is what can make or break your child’s confidence to face the world, not just the exams. Do realise the power of it, and let your child know that not doing well in an exam is not the end of the world. While you are at it, let yourself also know that.

3. Don’t over-compare, don’t over-discuss

As much as I believe it, I know it is impractical to say that exams do not matter at all. It is a competitive world and sadly enough, doing well in academics is right now, the seemingly obvious door to doing well in life. But it is still makes precious little sense to let exams become a bigger stress monster than they already are, by constantly discussing them. As parents of school-going kids, a majority of our time these days goes in keeping a tab on, or discussing classwork, homework, datesheets, assignments – on Whatsapp groups with other parents. Now just as no two kids are the same, no two parents are either. Everyone has their own stress points, everyone’s child has a different pace or capability of learning, and more importantly, everyone has a different level of panic or distress expression during. If you’d start to internalise not just your own, but every parent’s stress expressed on the groups, your life will never find a semblance of sanity. Too much discussion never helps. Similarly, dissecting the question paper and comparing answers when your kid has already written the exam is a supremely wasteful exercise. Unless it helps in broader terms of teaching your kid to write a future exam in a better way, don’t discuss it at all — with the children, with other parents. Remember that your negative reaction of one exam not having gone well has a great potential of spoiling your kid’s and your own confidence for those that are yet to happen. Why risk it?

Finally, a parting word for the teachers

Sir/Ma’am, no less than the Prime Minister of our country has spoken out against the stress that our examination system inflicts on the psyche of our future generations. Am pretty sure all schools are also spreading the message in their own way, that exams and their results do not, and should not, dictate the course of a student’s life. But it would seriously help to ease the burden of never-ending syllabus by streamlining it. There’s news that the government is looking at reducing the syllabus to almost half of what it is, by the next year. Maybe it’s wishful thinking as of now, but if that were to happen, the school’s role would be all the more critical in finding the right balance between academics and other equally important activities for a child’s overall development. The students look up to the teachers, so do the parents. Help them cope with the exam pressure, and you’ll forever be the favourite guru. Game?

Sonal Kalra has worked out a system to assess how well-prepared a parent is, to cope with stress. You need to start by taking an exam. Ha! Mail your thoughts at sonal.kalra@ or Follow on Twitter @sonalkalra

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