Lets focus on exam fear that most children have. Exams act as precipitating factors making the performance on a particular school subject or grades major stressors. There is a ‘season of examinations’ that most kids fear; just like they look forward to the summer for the vacation or the ‘season of festivals’.
As parents, you also get worried about your child’s health especially during competitions and exams. Therefore, you become a part of it. Thus it becomes important that both you and your child deal effectively with it. Keep the following pointers in mind. Make use of a few of these and identify which one works best for you. Devise your own methods since each person reacts differently to stress.
- Stress is not bad all the time: There is a concept called ‘EU Stress’. The prefix eu- derives from the greek word meaning “well” or “good.” When attached to the word stress, it literally means “good stress”.Eustress is not defined by the stressor type, but rather how one perceives that stressor. A particular level of stress is important to perform effectively on a given task. This would differ for each, so identify your own. This is not to say that learn to achieve ‘eustress’ but identify the thin line when is it that it gets converted to distress and starts affecting your child negatively.
- Reaction to stress is different for everyone: Each child, each person reacts differently to stress. As parents, you have to help your child identify what is the most stressful situation/stimuli/environment that leads to distress. Specially during examinations, for example, if you observe that stress levels increase most just the night before the examination and your child is not able to take appropriate amount of sleep, then build a strategy around it, may be put on soothing music, or spend some time counselling your child that its just an exam. This brings us to our next point
- “It’s just an examination” : Re look & Re visit your own feelings and thoughts about your child’s performance in examinations. Many parents consciously or unconsciously put too much pressure of excellent performance on their children. Thus, its not the exam fear, but the consequences of the performance on a particular exam that acts as a stressor. Believe and help your child believe that its just an examination, just an evaluation and its a normal process.
- Make it a ‘Fun’ process: Whether its an examination or just a unit paper, make it an easy going, fun process for your child. While the preparation leaves are going on, make sure your child takes enough breaks during studies. This will help build a routine and your child’s mind will get refreshed and enough fuel to prepare more effectively. Do not make it such a big deal that no one is allowed to visit home or you cannot go out “since exams are going on”. Since you are building a routine around preparation time, take your child out to a nice place, give a break and do not make your house a ‘do not disturb’ zone for 24/7. This will help your child take it a little easy and lead to “eustress” which will enhance performance during examination.
Overall, the examination process is just another way to evaluate your child’s learning from books during the year. There are so many more things and experiences that your child learns from that have added to her/his growth. Focus on the overall holistic development of your child. Provide an environment with positive stimulation to your child and evaluate your child’s mind and personality development based on that.