EXAMS! The five letter word instils dread in the hearts of millions of kids and parents alike. Even with the best preparations and the coolest kids, exam time means high strung nerves and emotions. Exam stress has taken on a whole new meaning, in the last decade or so, as mark sheets inked with distinctions are dominating the school circles. Competition has been taken to dizzying heights, and as such, students feel pressurized like never before to match up to the new benchmarks of success.
When final exams are just around the corner and it’s a time of prolonged nightmare for little ones! Kids fear that if they score poorly in exams, they’ll disappoint their parents and get humiliated by their friends. Burdened with lots of tension and ambitions, it’s common for the children to develop exam jitters. If you want your child to escape the vicious claws of exam tension, these tips will help you guide them through the much-dreaded exam period.
1. Help them Create a To-Do-List
Study schedules come in handy when tots are running short of time and have many topics to memorize. As a parent, you must draw your own timetable to participate in their life but don’t create a schedule for kids and expect them to follow it. Rather, encourage them to classify their subjects by ‘easy, medium and hard’ topics. Help them prepare a realistic to-do-list that they can willingly follow.
When you impose your own schedule on them, it adds on to the existing pressure and escalates into exam stress. Therefore, give them the freedom to choose their own subject, study time and revision hours and restrict yourself to observing their decisions. Correct them only when it is needed.
2. Make Studies Fun
It’s hard for the kids to revise boring black text written in the books and copies over and over again. To beat the boredom, make studies exciting by incorporating new and innovative ideas. Use tools, toys, audio/video clips, animations and flashcards to simplify lengthy topics like history, geography and literature.
Using charts and pictures is equally effective as it makes difficult subjects like math, computer and science visually appealing. While teaching them languages, environmental science, moral science, economics, etc. make sure that you give them real-life examples to help them relate to the topics. This will relieve the pressure on them and would curb the exam stress.
3. Create ‘the Environment’
Don’t expect your kids to study in their rooms with speakers blaring in the background, guests chatting in the living room and their siblings running all over the place. When your children are studying, especially if they’re in the higher classes, it is essential to create a consistent, peaceful and stress-free environment for them.
Fix a time for meals and designate a specific room where they can comfortably study with minimal distractions. Provide them with all the essential material, such as guides, stationery, water, alarm clock, maps, printers, laptops, etc. so they don’t waste their time in searching and buying important stuff.
4. Avoid Comparisons to Avoid Stress
“If neighbour’s son can score 98%, why can’t you?” is a trait, typical to the Indian parents which lead to massive teenage exam stress. As a person who is taking the exam, your kid is already stressed. Hence, it’s your duty to communicate with them in a positive way. Encourage them, strengthen their positive points and help them overcome the negatives. Don’t compare them with other kids. Trust us, it’s really humiliating.
Keep realistic expectations from your kids. Don’t expect them to score a 100 in maths if their favourite subject is geography or English. Rather, help them deal with the boring subjects in a calm and composed manner.
5. Shower them with Breaks and Rewards
Parents have the tendency to shower gifts upon kids when they score above 90%. This trend must stop. Rather than rewarding them for being competitive and scoring high, you should reward them for their hard work, for successfully beating the exam demons, acquiring knowledge of a subject and keeping exam tension within limits.
Likewise, it’s pointless to create a 6-hour study schedule for them because the poor child gets bored by the time exams approach near. Instead, spread their study hours throughout the day and squeeze in little breaks for snacks, naps, parent-child bonding time and healthy activities, such as exercise, yoga, music, etc. This would help them get rid of stress.
6. Be a strong support system
Children often get stressed out about not living up to their parents’ expectations. So, ensure that you communicate it to your child that exams are not the end all, be all of life. Set achievable goals and talk your child through what went wrong and what they did right in a particular exam. Refrain from showing disappointment at their mistakes which can’t be changed but turn it into a learning experience and allow room for improvement. This simple change in your attitude will ensure your kids are not haunted by exam tension.
7. Channelling anxiousness the right way
Indulging in sports or exercise is probably not high on the list among students on the verge of giving exams. But, a little time out from studies to incorporate some physical activity like swimming, cycling or shooting hoops can spring up their energy levels and release stress- bursting hormones. The rush of adrenaline refreshes the mind and makes it more capable of assimilating new information and ideas.
Having anxiety around exam time is natural especially since the build-up to exams leads to immense pressure and exam stress. Feeling prepared, not just regarding studies, but also mentally knowing what to expect from the D-day can make students feel in charge. Things, like having a mock test, visiting the exam centre, or going through the actions during exam time, will help calm those fraying nerves.
As a post-exam tip, always remember that you’ve to reassure and motivate your child to overcome his failures if he or she is not able to perform well in the exams. After all, the whole idea of education is to acquire knowledge and practical skills for living, rather than just scoring A’s on the report card.
We welcome your stories on how you helped your child cope with the exam-stress. Please post your experiences and suggestions in comments to helps millions of parents and children.
Until then, Happy Parenting!