From Panic to Peace: Tips for Parents on Managing Exam Stress in Child
- 27 January 2023
EXAMS- It might be just a two week period in student’s life, but it can create an enormous amount of stress for students, and consequently the whole family. So, why does a fortnight of exams become so stressful? What impact does this have on performance and wellbeing? And what can parents do to help put their child at ease?
Let’s dig deep into all these questions. I am Simran Kaur, working as Career Counselor at one of the best international schools of India– Oakridge Mohali.
Over my experience as a counselor, I have observed that stress is a normal part of human existence; we are built to either ‘fight’ or ‘fly’ i.e. either tackle or ignore the stressful situations. Each one of us is unique, some find it harder to cope with pressure than others – and research shows that for those people, stress can have a detrimental effect on performance and participation in school.
Research suggests that the high stress comes from:
To put it simply, stress can be good if we believe it’s good. It’ll work for us if we develop a mindset that stress helps our performance, health and well-being (rather than seeing it as debilitating). In a study related to exam stress shows students who saw stress as an opportunity and used it for self-growth had increased performance and decreased emotional exhaustion. But students who saw stress as a threat displayed a declining performance.
So, here’s a guide for parents on how to help their child cope with, and take control of exam stress:
Stress is normal when we engage in something challenging. We feel the stress because we are vulnerable that we may not perform well. Teach your child that this uncomfortable feeling is good because it means you are challenging yourself. Don’t protect them from the challenge or make the stress abnormal or they’ll think it is something to fear. Ask them about their feelings, listen and encourage but help them to see challenge as a good thing.
A child may feel dejected and broken, when encountered with failure. They need to know there is not just one perfect plan but there are multiple pathways to success. Failure (or not getting exactly what you want) is a normal part of life. Great success incorporates great failure. Failure is an event that provides us with choices; it is not who we are.
When a young person is stressed, they will go over and over an idea in their mind. In some ways it is comforting to party with the idea, but it makes it grow into a bigger problem. When we feed negative thoughts, they hang around and grow. Actually, doing something you enjoy or working through the thing you are thinking about is the best distraction for worrying thoughts.
Everyone learns differently. Work out the most effective environment for your child. Do they like to study alone or study with friends? They may be a visual learner and use lots of pictures, or a verbal learner and need to talk through ideas. Study can be more effective when you space it out over time. So, take a three-hour study session and add five minutes break every 30 minutes to improve their productivity.
Remember, “exams do not define a person’s whole future, they are just one event amongst many in a student’s life.”