Around this time every year, children and their parents alike all over the countryarepre-occupiedwith one thing -- Exams. In those five letters exists a world of anxiety, hair-pulling, clenched teeth, bitter arguments and tears.
Often, we see that the emotional cadence and rhythm of the household is centered entirely around the child’s tuition and exam schedule. In such cases, it is sometimes as hard on the parents as it is on the child.
Keeping in mind the vulnerability of the student population, with “failure in examinations” noted as a common reason for student suicide, the need of the hour is to re-examine our approach to examinations in general and how families together can cope with the stress.
Approach to examinations
Emotional atmosphere of the household is key to explain this better.Consider the example. A household leading up to final examinations where the following measures are usually taken: All playtime is stopped; Extracurricular activities are put on indefinite hiatus; Wi-Fi/Cable connection is cut; And promises of coveted toys/gifts are made in exchange for good marks.
The parents may notice two quite contrasting responses to this approach. The first child may become engrossed entirely with the idea of attaining what he or she deems a “good” percentage to the detriment of social interaction with family, sleep and peace of mind.The second child conversely may become disinterested and give up, without seeming to care enough to do well.
A child will more often give weight to the changes in environment taking place around it rather than the encouraging words of the parents.Therefore it’s important to consider what we are indirectly communicating to children through the household environment.
Both the above situations are concerning and should be approached delicately. A child’s response to a given situation will vary greatly based on its innate temperament, something that should be well observed by the caregivers.
Has your child always been sensitive like the first child, taking things to heart easily? If so, it would benefit from a gentler approach with lots of reassurance and opportunities to share the worries, emphasising the value of efforts over attainment.
Or like the second child, is your child an individual who needs variety and gets easily frustrated with routine?
Then it would benefit from a structured approach which includes plenty of small opportunities for letting off the steam throughout the day.
Dr M S Dharmendra
Consultant psychiatrist, Manasa Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Bengaluru
Dr Apoorva Dharmendra
PhD Scholar: Clinical neurosciences, NIMHANS (child and adolescent psychiatry) Bengaluru