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Relax, it’s good for your kid

Psychologists say several parents relive their exam stress through their child’s exam. It is not fair on the child as well, reports Jaya Shroff Bhalla.
Hindustan Times | By Jaya Shroff Bhalla, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2009 12:17 AM IST

Jahnvi Gera, a resident of New Friends Colony, whose daughter Unnati is appearing for the Class X boards, says: “I had to take off from work to be with my daughter as she needs complete attention and care.”

Gera wakes up early in the morning, wakes her daughter up and fixes her morning milk and breakfast. Ask her if she is nervous and comes the obvious reply: “I am very anxious. It feels as if I am going to sit for boards. I was never so nervous during my exams but now there is so much more competition.”

Same is the case with Mayana Kumar, whose son Keshav will be appearing for his boards this year. Kumar, who works with a private bank, has taken a 15 days’ off to be with her son. Later, her husband will take a leave while she gets back to work.

Psychologists say several parents relive their exam stress through their child’s exam. It is not fair on the child as well. Psychiatrists’ say anxiety levels among parents these days are much higher than the child. “Working parents alter their timetables and take leave to be with their child. Sometimes it helps but a lot of times over-involvement only adds to the pressure,” said Dr Rajesh Sagar, consultant psychiatrist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. “While it is important for the parent to provide emotional support, over-protectiveness and over-involvement may sometimes amplify anxiety levels in the child,” he added.

“Have realistic expectations” is the psychiatrists’ advice to parents who tend to burden their child with sky-high expectations. While good scores are important, they are certainly not be-all and end-all.

Experts say that as a parent, one can help the child de-stress. “Be a good listener, encourage your child to talk about their anxieties and help them get over it by boosting their confidence. Remember, exams definitely are not the end of the world,” said Dr Bhawna Burmi, senior clinical psychologist and educational counselor at Escorts hospital.

“Parents have a tendency to burden their child with their own unfulfilled desires. While this is unnecessary, it stresses out the child manifold,” she said.

Psychiatrists say parents should not let their anxiety reflect on their child. “It is important that parents do not overdo things. It is essential to strike a balance,” said Dr Neena Bohra, consultant psychiatrist, Moolchand Medcity.

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