Stress, tension, pressure, marks, percentage. These are the few terms that are synonymous with the board exam season, both for students and their parents.
It’s a given that students are under tremendous pressure to perform well, and it could be for multiple reasons. Some children have personal goals, some try to follow the plan set by their parents, and others just want to get through a difficult hurdle in their educational graphs.
The preparation for boards begins a long time before the exam — several months for most students — and along with that builds anxiety, stress and other conditions that are only to be expected when children focus on their books.
In such a situation, it is for the parents to provide a safe, nurturing and possibly stress-free environment so that the students can concentrate better.
However, there are situations where parents can end up putting more pressure on their children, even though they have the best intentions for them.
South First spoke to psychologists and psychiatrists on this matter and they shared 4 things that parents often say or do that can end up adding more stress on the already pressured student:
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1. Setting unrealistic expectations
While it is understandable to set certain goals and plans in terms of the exam and results, parents can sometimes end up setting unrealistic targets which end up hampering the child’s progress.
“If parents have high expectations from their children regarding the board examinations, ideally, the foundation for that needs to be set up from Class 8 or Class 9 itself. Parents should not suddenly put pressure in Class 10 or 12,” Dr Uma Hirisave, a clinical psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), Bengaluru, tells South First.
She asserts that parents blindly setting goals for their children, without even knowing their skills and academic capabilities, will only prove detrimental and affect their studies by building more pressure.
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2. Constantly pushing to study
There is a difference between reminding one’s child to focus and study, and nagging them continuously about it, even when the child has been studying for a long time.
“It is a parental responsibility to ensure that the child takes breaks while studying. Pushing them to study all the time will simply add to the stress that the child is already under,” says Dr Hirisave.
An ideal environment for students while preparing for exams is one where they can replenish themselves as they take breaks from studying.
Constantly harping on the need to stay buried in books will end up further stressing the child and hamper their ability to focus and affect their motivation.
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3. Focusing solely on ‘percentage’
The result of any examination, which is marks, is a crucial aspect that parents focus on during preparation. But going overboard about it to the point that the student is only left thinking about scoring while they study can be harmful to the student’s mental state.
“It is important for parents to appear relaxed while the student is preparing and not talk about marks and percentages all the time. Focusing on what the child is studying at the time is crucial,” says Dr Hirisave.
She further suggests that if a parent is appearing to be overbearing about this matter, children should directly tell them to stop thinking about the outcome and prioritise immediate goals in terms of preparation.
4. Comparing accomplishments & marks with other students
This is a pet peeve of a lot of students around the world. The constant comparison of one’s marks — usually with that of a high-scoring student — can certainly get on the child’s nerves, especially when it comes from their own parents.
Parents need to understand that their board-appearing children are already straining under the crushing weight to perform well. Putting pressure on them to score more than other students can be harmful to their mental health, according to Dr Mahesh R Gowda, a psychiatrist and the director of Spandana health care.
“Parents should not bring up past failures and accomplishments by other people,” Dr Gowda tells South First, adding that by doing so, instead of motivating them to perform, it can end up taking a toll on the child’s mental health.