The mental pressure on students do not only arise from academic factors. Non academic factors such as how parents deal with upcoming exams of their children is also a major issue.
With CBSE, ICSE and state board exams starting soon or already in the process, this is a trying time for students. The immense competition with the large number of students sitting for these qualification exams causes the mental pressure on students to skyrocket.
While the academic pressure itself at this time is likely to be immense, both for students as well as parents, stories where non-academic factors are found be much more anxiety provoking than the exams themselves are not uncommon. What makes things worse at such times is the tendency of family members and peers to tell the stressed student to 'ignore everything else and focus on studies'.
To put it simply, while there is a hardly a student who isn't under a great deal of stress with regard to the exams, they're a passing a worry for most students. However, for those students who may already be in a vulnerable state, a high pressure situation such as the exams can be the final straw.
What then can you do as a parent or a relative of a young student in this kind of a situation?
Here are a few tips you should follow to ease exam pressure on your child :
1. The first step is to be on a lookout for any kind of warning signs: Looking at the obvious signs first. Changes in appetite and sleep are common at this point in time, and may not necessarily mean that the student is suicidal. However, it is still extremely important that a student gets enough rest and nourishment during this time.
2. Encourage them to switch to fruits and liquids if they can't bring themselves to eat a full meal, or to take frequent naps if they prefer studying through the night.
3. While it is essential that you minimize distractions at home as much as possible, it is also important to keep talking to the student at regular intervals to get a sense of how they are feeling from time to time.
If you notice crying/ breaking down, or hear them saying things like 'I don't want to appear for the exam tomorrow', 'I feel like running away from everything', 'I wish I don't wake up tomorrow', it is quite likely that the student is feeling extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed by the pressure.
It is important to assure the student at this time that you are there for them and that your support will not change depending on how they fare in the exams.
4. It is also helpful to play down the significance of the exams itself. Avoiding statements like, 'Your future depends on this exam', 'If you want to do well in life, you must do well in these exams' etc would help reduce the expectations at this point.
5. Another useful tip at this point is to help the student play things to his or her strengths. This means asking them to revise topics that they are already confident about, so as to consolidate them further, rather than advising them to try and cram chapters they may have missed, at the last minute.
While these suggestions may help control the immediate anxiety, such bouts may recur if not addressed effectively. It is therefore important that you help the student in need, access help for short-term as well as long term needs.
A helpline such as iCALL can be of great use at times like these. If you, or anyone you know has a student in their families who is appearing for the board examinations, do tell them about student helplines such as these. A simple gesture on your part may be a life-changing help for someone !