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Friday, September 5, 2008

Dealing with Exam Stress

An Advice to Parents

Be rational, not mechanical

ALMOST every thinking parent has read about and learnt all the right ways to deal with their child's exam stress. Many have tried to plan study schedules and have even changed their own routines to accommodate their 'class X/XII' daughter or son. But, what good is a manual on parenting when the child breaks down, just before the exam?

What can a mother, who enters the room with an encouraging smile and some hot chocolate, do when she sees her child sobbing and, between each errant breath, apologising for being a failure?

Irrational fear, sensitivity and an absolute lack of reason must to be countered with mature rationality, even though it may not come easily at that given time.The only sane psychological advice is to take time to react. Refrain from giving into any spontaneous emotion that you sense. Hold your child close to yourself and give it some time before you tell him/her to calm down. Be surprised at such behaviour and ask for reason. Reply with a calm, controlled tone that it is the effort put in and not the outcome that matters.

It is important that the child starts talking and that his/her 'reason' eventually prevails. Belittle the fear and reassure the child of unconditional love. Any words on the child's future or planning the next mode of action may bring back more traumatic thoughts. Instead, steer the conversation to frivolous, mundane chatter that centre around the fact that there is life beyond the results. Let the moment pass; let the physical manifestations of the felt emotion calm down before any suggestion to get on with the chores of the day. Pamper the rituals that help them calm down. Before you leave the child, make sure you that you have both agreed upon a few rationalised steps to fill the next hour.This way you could bring reason to each process before the actual moment of planned positive action for the exam.

The best advice however, is to pre-empt such behaviour altogether. Find reason and time to internalise the thoughts that only the 'present' is in our control and that the past and future are secondary. Believe in your child and reassure him/her that he/she is all you will ever want.

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group

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