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Your way of parenting during exams can make a difference in your child's board exam results. Here are some do's and don'ts for you to help your child during his board exams
Children of every generation have associated exams with fear, anxiety and stress. And, for those attending board exams, these feelings are further exacerbated by the knowledge of the fact that the marks they score will stay with them forever.
But, examination-eve pangs aren't just limited to children. They are felt in equal measure by parents as well. So, parenting during exams becomes challenging.
In his book, 'Kids pick up on everything: How parental stress is toxic to kids', David Code says, "...children can 'catch' their parents' stress just like they catch a virus, soaking up the stress that pervades a household until their developing nervous systems reach 'overload'. Then kids act-out or get sick."
Therefore, the role of parents assumes special significance during their child's board exams. They need to make conscious efforts to maintain an environment of peace and calm, as high levels of stress can affect their child's performance in the exam. As the paper 'Exam Stress' by the Child Development and Adolescent Health Center, VIMHANS, puts it, "The idea is to function with a level of stress that is life enhancing, not life threatening."
Diet: Keep the diet simple and nourishing. Avoid food that is too heavy and makes the child lethargic. Provide small healthy snacks. A nourishing mix of dried fruits and nuts is a good and healthy snack.
Exercise: Physical exercise releases endorphins - the body's happy hormone. So, help your child put together a study schedule that leaves adequate time for her to exercise and recharge. It will also help her stay focused in the exam hall.
Home environment: Put all stress-inducing conversations on the back-burner. During exam time, do not reprimand your child for trivial issues like messy rooms or not keeping things in their rightful place. The main motive should be to keep the environment at home congenial and conducive for the child to feel relaxed and study.
Interpersonal relationships: Gently encourage your child to talk about exam nerves. For example, his feelings or the way he is preparing to achieve the result he expects. One of the most important things to reinforce is that exams are not the end of everything. They are just a means to gauge where he stands and work on improving himself further.
Social life and relationships: To encourage your child to limit his social interactions during the exam season, take the lead by reining in your social life. Some of the things you can do are, avoid throwing parties at home or attending get-togethers, keep phone conversations with friends and relatives short, watch TV or listen to music at a low volume. Keep yourself busy with something fruitful like household or office tasks to encourage your child to stay focused on his primary responsibility.
Routine: Following a routine is very helpful but do not set down rules for your child and insist that she follow them. Collaborate with your child to come up with a daily routine. This will be far more beneficial and easy for the whole family to follow.
Psychological well-being: Keeping an open environment for your child to speak her mind will help you understand her emotional state. If you feel that your child is anxious and stressed, try to instill in her a sense of positivity with some pep talk.
Make sure your child eats a light but filling breakfast. When it comes to going to the exam center, some children feel anxious or pressured when their parents accompany them. So, do ask your child if he would like you to drop him. One parent I know would always leave a sticky note with an inspirational quote on the bathroom mirror for the child to read the first thing in the morning during exam time. Little things like these are wonderful ways for positive reinforcement and confidence-building.
Once the exam is over, do not talk too much to your child about how she performed and the result she expects. But, to help your child learn from the experience, you can ask her whether she would like to try and do something different in the next exam. Remember, life is all about moving forward. So, help your child focus on the next challenge instead of ruminating too much on what has already happened.
On the day when results are to be announced, reiterate to your child you are proud of the effort he put in, regardless of the marks he scores or the grades he obtains. Also, remind him that to do better, he needs to compete with himself.
Exams are meant to challenge our children and help them move forward. Even if your child doesn't achieve the grades he aspired to, plenty of options for future studies do remain available to him. As parents, we need to make sure we are there to guide our children towards putting in their best. If you ever feel that you are overwhelmed by the thought of how your child will fare in exams, do not hesitate to talk to mental health experts like psychologists or counsellors.