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Overcoming exam stress

With exam season around the corner, help-lines, psychologists and psychiatrists have seen a rise in students battling exam-related stress disorders. It is observed that many children go into a panic mode during examinations and suddenly find that they can’t recall the information that they have learned, or suffer from “brain block”. During exam time, it may be impossible to avoid stress altogether, however there are several things you can do to help alleviate as much stress as possible. Many students who experience severe manifestations of exam anxiety often need psychiatric help. Over the past two or three years, counsellors have noticed that many students complain that they are unable to recall what they had studied. For instance, boosting children’s confidence and self-belief, helping them let go of anxiety over things they have no control over, and helping them take some time to relax!

The examination season is marked with sky-high stress levels, anxiety, pressure and tension on part of both the students as well as the parents. Parents often feel like it is them who are appearing for examination instead of the child. Lives begin to revolve around a flurry of tuitions and tuition teachers, strict time-tables and academics. We as parents believe examinations to be the most important aspect of a child’s life to the exclusion of everything else and pass this message along with the tension to our wards as well.

Some of the symptoms, such as depression, not interacting with others, decrease in sleep and appetite, fatigue and lack of concentration, are indications that a person needs medical help. Exam-related depression, black-outs and suicides have become alarmingly common. It is a difficult task for a parent to convey to their children the importance of exams while making sure that they do not add to their children’s stress and at the same time handle their own personal anxiety as well.

If parents and the school can help students develop a proper perspective on what they want to pursue in life, they will be better equipped to respond to exam stress. Due to their parental pressure and peer competition, they never get a time and chance to focus on their passion and never understand what they want to become in future. Children must be taught to handle competitiveness in the right frame of mind. They need freedom to choose the subjects they wish to pursue at higher secondary level. Most of the time, students are depressed and stressed when they are forced by parents to choose Maths or Science group.

Parents have a huge role to play in managing exam stress in children, especially in today’s world of cut-throat competition and pressure on children to perform. It is natural for a parent to expect his/her child to achieve good results and perform better. They also become anxious about their child’s performance in examinations for getting admission into that elusive college/university. However, one of the most important lessons we need our children to learn is that success is a process, not a destination and that it has many definitions, academic results is just one of many definitions of it.

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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