CHENNAI: “I did not realise that my child actually believed me when I called him useless and stupid!” This was the statement of a parent of a depressed adolescent, after realising the effects of anger and impatience on the child.
Students and parents both face considerable stress and anxiety when exam results come out. Students feel a crippling sense of self-defeat when unhappy with exam results, and the low self-esteem and depression cause a heightened risk for self-harm and suicide. Parents, who are the natural support system, play a key role in buffering their children’s psychological health during these difficult times. By creating a calm, open, accepting environment at home, they can reassure children that an unsatisfactory academic performance is not the worst thing ever. Unsatisfactory results are just one setback, and setbacks certainly don’t stick around forever permeating every aspect of the child’s functioning.
Parents should realise that every child is different with differing capacities. Instead of pressuring them to overtake their peers, parents must focus on the innate strengths, interests, and skills of their child. Bolstering their child’s natural talents leads to increased psychological health, allowing the kid to expand the mind and explore other options.
Parents need to help open up their children’s academic and professional world by showing them different educational routes and career paths. Children are motivated by remembering previous academic achievements, successful challenges, and effective strategies, so that they can be reassured that they have what it takes to be successful in their future.
When children express negative views about themselves, it is crucial for parents to show patience, reduce angry outbursts and not criticise them. Lack of parental bonding makes children feel shunned and shamed, causing them to dig deeper into their despair.
If parents highlight their strengths and buffer their weaknesses, children can plan and strategise for an alternative future without doubts or fears. Children are also empowered to take real accountability and responsibility for their decisions when they are directly involved in charting their re-imagined future.
Teaching children to look forward rather than backward and inspiring them to accept their current situation while being open to the stirring possibilities of the future can help realise their true potential. Possibilities that are certainly not limited to their exam results.
(The author is a counselling psychologist)