Exam Time: 9 Questions Every Parent Must Answer

Wondering what should be your ‘right’ involvement in your child's exams? Well, simply answer these questions and find out if you are over-involved, under-involved or rightly-involved as a parent!

By Team ParentCircle  • 14 min read

Exam Time: 9 Questions Every Parent Must Answer

A parent's involvement in his child's exam is important. But how much is too much? Let's find out!

Here is a list of questions (in the form of scenarios) with three different options as responses. Select the option that comes closest to the way you would respond. 

For each question, our experts have given explanations and offered guidance to help you understand what the most appropriate and preferred response should be, and WHY. 

Please note that this is only an indicative list, carefully crafted by our experts. These questions are meant to help you reflect, understand and meet your child’s needs. 

Let’s go ahead and see if you are offering too much, too little or the right amount of help, assistance and support to your child. 

The Questionnaire

1. Your child is moody, aloof and passes comments such as, “I feel like running away.”

You:

a) Tell your child that all children feel exam stress and that he will get over it.

b) Worry about it and say to your child, “Oh my God! Why should you feel like that?”

c) Ask your child what makes him want to run away.

2. Your child tells you that she is nervous because she is not well-prepared for the exams.

You:

a) Tell your child not to worry and that she will do well.

b) Ask your child to write down all the things that are making her nervous.

c) Push your child to work harder so that her nervousness will go away.

3. Your child’s attention and focus are divided between extra-curricular activities and exam preparation.

You:

a) Believe that your child is be responsible for himself.

b) Discuss with your child and make a plan for exam preparation.

c) Stop the extra-curricular activities till the exams are over.

4. You see other parents disconnect Internet and TV connections in their homes as the board exams approach.

You:

a) Ask your child what is suitable for her exam preparation.

b) Protect the TV password and Internet settings so that your child does not get distracted.

c) Continue to watch TV and use the Internet because you feel your child must know by now how to not get distracted.

5. Your child is getting distracted by phone calls and messages.

You:

a) Tell your child not to get distracted and tell him to switch off the phone.

b) Ask your child for ideas on how he could deal with the distractions.

c) Help by taking away your child’s phone to stop the distractions and restore focus on studies.

6. Your child seems to be disorganised and is trying to cram her lessons at the last minute.

You:

a) Work with your child to come up with an action plan.

b) Make a study time-table for her.

c) Tell your child to be more organised and serious about studies.

7. You find your child studying all the time without taking a break.

You:

a) Encourage him to keep at it and stay focussed.

b) Believe your child knows what’s best for him.

c) Talk to him about why regular breaks are helpful.

8. There is an important family function coming up close to your child’s board exams.

You:

a) Decide not to attend the function but feel unhappy about missing it.

b) Insist your child too attends the function.

c) Ask your child if she would like to attend the function.

9. Which one of the following statements are you most likely to say to your child?

You:

a) Do what you can. Marks are not everything. Don’t get so stressed.

b) Work hard and give it your best. Your efforts will be rewarded.

c) The board exam will decide your future.

Explanation From Experts

1. If your child is moody and aloof..

a) Too little: While it’s good that you recognise your child’s stress, your advice overlooks his deep distress as indicated by his moodiness and comment.

b) Too much: Quite naturally, you would react to your child’s comment with worry and fear for his safety. The panic is likely to make you underplay the importance of the exams, as you attempt to stop him from thinking in that direction.

c) Just right: By asking him why he feels that way, you are allowing him to share his feelings with you, which in itself will help him calm down. Listen without judgment. Understand, comfort, support and reassure him.

2. If your child feels she is not well-prepared..

a) Too little: It must be difficult for you to accept that your child is in this state of mind. Perhaps you mean to encourage her by offering words of reassurance, but brushing aside her nervousness could make her feel even more distressed and helpless.

b) Just right: Having a conversation with your child about her nervousness helps her feel understood and cared for. Listing down all the things that are worrying her helps her understand the real cause of her worry – Is she nervous about the results or because her preparation for the exam is inadequate, or does she fear she may forget what she has learnt, or does she worry she may not do as well as you expect her to do…? Guide her accordingly and support her right through the exams.

c) Too much: Maybe you are assuming that your child is nervous because she is not working hard enough for the exams and that’s why you are offering her a solution that seems right to you. But her nervousness remains unaddressed.

3. If you feel your child’s attention and focus are divided…

a) Too little: Your child could feel overwhelmed with all the exam preparation. He probably needs your guidance to make responsible decisions. He may feel neglected and uncared for without any guidance from you.

b) Just right: An open discussion helps you understand your child’s specific needs. Activities are often a good stressbuster that energise and refresh the mind. It’s a good idea to come up with a schedule together, that leaves enough time for studies and revision, while leaving some space and time for extra-curricular activities.

c) Too Much: Your child may well resent your arbitrary decision and feel frustrated. The sudden change could disturb the comfort of his routine.

4. TV and internet settings at home during exams…

a) Just right: Your child appreciates that you value his opinion and is more objective while assessing her options. Some children may be able to restrict their TV viewing and use it as a helpful break/distraction, while others may ask their parents to disconnect the TV and Internet because they are unable to resist the temptation. In this case, parents should cooperate to help their child stay away from distractions.

b) Too Much: A sudden ban on TV and Internet usage can leave your child feeling angry and unhappy. These negative emotions can affect her focus and concentration on studies.

c) Too Little: Your child can feel that you don’t care about her performance. Your TV viewing can be a distraction. If you need to watch TV or use the Internet, do so privately in another room, so she is not distracted by the sound.

5. If your child is getting distracted by phone...

a) Too little: While you are aware of the distractions, just telling your child what to do may not be enough. You expect him to comply, but it’s not easy for him to suddenly switch off his phone and ‘disconnect’ from his friends.

b) Just right: You engage your child in a purposeful conversation and problem-solving. Since you do not enforce restrictions on your child, his mind is free to come up with a suitable action plan that can help regulate his phone usage. He will welcome your suggestions and support each time he falters.

c) Too much: While your intention is to stop your child from being distracted, your action could backfire. To be suddenly deprived of the phone could fill your child with anger and resentment, which will impact his concentration on studies. Besides, the strained relationship will result in added stress for both you and your child.

6. If you feel your child is disorganised…

a) Just right: Working with your child makes her feel supported. List out her strengths and show her how she can use them to become more organised with her studies. Helping her set small achievable goals in her studies will relieve the pressure of having to cram the lessons.

b) Too much: You have a genuine interest to help your child. However, a time-table made entirely by you without considering her preferences could give her a reason to rebel and distance herself from you. Besides, she may continue to struggle with her studies.

c) Too little: Making your child aware of what she needs to do is only the first step. Also, expecting her to learn a new skill on her own during crunch time will add to the pressure.

7. If your child is studying all the time without taking a break...

a) Too much: Your child may try even harder to meet your expectations. But he may soon experience an unwelcome burn-out before the exams. Continuous studying will tire his mind and result in him losing focus.

b) Too little: Your child could be misguided or over-stressed – he might believe that breaks are a waste of time and is likely to think of them as distractions. He will need your active care and support to help him get adequate rest and relaxation.

c) Just Right: While you appreciate your child’s hard work, ensuring he takes regular breaks to rest and refresh his mind will help him sustain focus on his studies.

8. Attending family functions during the exam season..

a) Too much: You believe that you must sacrifice an important family event for the sake of your child’s exams. However, you also feel sore about missing the family celebration. Your child could become stressed from feeling guilty and could feel she is responsible for your unhappiness.

b) Too little: You appreciate the importance of lending your presence and support at family functions and of teaching your child to do the same. But to disregard her opinion could seem unfair and disturbing to your child.

c) Just right: Giving your child a choice lets her weigh her options and decide for herself. You could ask her to think about how she plans to make up for the lost study time.

9. Your outlook towards exams…

a) Too little: Quite naturally, you do not want your child to stress over the exams. But he could interpret your well-meaning words as a lack of trust in his ability to do well. Feeling discouraged, he could lose his motivation to do well. Instead, accept that stress is normal and help him deal with it.

b) Just right: You rightly emphasise the importance of hard work and effort that invariably brings out the best in your child. Your fair expectations will clearly motivate him to give it his best shot. He will trust that his hard work will pay off in the long run.

c) Too much: While this is a genuine attempt to encourage your child, linking his whole future to his performance in the board exams will put undue pressure and cause anxiety. This could adversely affect his performance, even if he is well prepared for the exams

These nine questions could well change your outlook and approach as you get set to be the pillar of support your child needs in an environment of pressure. We are sure you and your child can make a great team and soar through the exam season with confidence and ease! All the best!

Stressed about exams? Call our Counsellors on 8754414666 / 044-66236611 in Feb (Tues & Fri, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.)   

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