Examinations. This is a word which can leave children swaying in different feelings. As the exam season starts nearing, it brings with it time of worries, anxiety, nervousness, fear and stress for children. The higher the studies, the bigger the stress.
With the ever increasing competition in studies and rising expectations of excellence from teachers, parents and relatives, friends and society, every child is directly or indirectly forced to excel in exams. Parents are not ready to accept below 99 percent, and if it appears, they find it very hard to digest.
All these things contribute towards building an environment of pressure around children, and children are mostly not expressive of this pressure, but we as parents can clearly find it dominating over their face.
Though, a certain amount of such stress acts as a motivator and energizing, higher levels can be troublesome. In these times, support, care and guidance are the foremost needs of children. Parents, though they understand, it becomes difficult for them to handle this situation due to their own work pressure and other commitments. We all know subconsciously what need to be done, but bring that thought to our conscious mind, prioritizing and executing well is all it takes for the parents to help their children deal with this monster.
Here are a few tips which can help parents and children to work together, manage stress and enthusiastically pass the examination period.
Proactive Preparation: Preparation of exams, if done over time rather than in rush hour, can avoid stress build up. Parents need to help children from early years by making them used to habits like making notes, using flip charts, markers, whiteboarding, notes review etc. This helps the children understand the subject more effectively rather than just learning, making them prepared as they progress with time, and reduce the intensity of learning to be a bit high above normal before exams, rather than being abruptly higher and build stress.
Relax in between sittings: Understand your children’s concentration span, and have them take breaks from longer sittings and relax for sometime. Studying for extended hours than normal is an added activity which the body is not used to, and can disturb the body clock, making the children sleepy or dizzy during on hours. Monitor your kids and subtly ask them to relax, take a nap or do whatever. For kids who are less prepared, and not willing to take such breaks fearing for a failure, it is on the skills of parents who can smartly get them hooked to some other task without them understanding you want them to just switch off from their books for some time. The relaxation helps the body to return to routine and a chance for the brain to assimilate the information.
Physical activity: Children used to be generally physically active, but a steep low is being found in the number of children physically active these days. Exam days keep children hooked to their study rooms or desks for extended hours. Getting them physically active is necessary for their muscles to expand and contract, and avoid any discomfort which may arise out of stretched hours of study, adding to more worries. Ask your kids to go outdoors, go to market and quickly buy stuff if they are grown enough you feel, or play some outdoor sports. Walking, running or bicycling for 30 minutes a day is all it takes for their body and mind to rejuvenate and overcome stress. If your kids are rigid, take the lead and hang out with them.
Sleep right: Ensure your children get a decent sleep. Children may fall prey to insomnia due to exam stress, which may prove negative during exam times. If you think your child is having difficulty sleeping, show your love, affection care and cuddle; and do get engaged in their studies by being a coach. How? Understand separately what topics they are prepared with, brainstorm and ask them questions related to the same topics without judgment or evaluation. They will answer right, and will feel more confident and relieved from one side, and this would help them concentrate more on the subjects or topics they are running back at.
Eat well: Keep the dining balanced. Ensure they have their meals on time, without fail! Change the menu frequently. Kids love food, and eating variety would make them feel satiated. Supplement their diet with extra fruits & salad in day time and hot milk while sleeping. This ensures they get their daily supplement which their body needs for extra efforts. Keep them well hydrated. You may choose to keep water bottles next to them so that they keep on sipping as they need.
There are many other things which can be done to manage the examination time stress in kids I could elaborate. There are disturbances in daily life which are unavoidable and difficult to deal with, but we as parents need to set our priorities right; and execute without a second thought. I am saying so because as other things in life are inevitable for us, exam stress too is unavoidable for our kids, and it is natural.
The above key pointers are mediocre activities which does not take extensively extra efforts for the parents, but needs an active presence of mind and a bit of innovation in problem solving. If done, it becomes easy for both the children and parents to navigate through the exam time and keep kids safe from exam stress and associated disorders.
Let me know what do you think about the above pointers, and also comment what do you think are other ways exam stress can be managed. I would be keen to hear your ideas and experiences, as being a parent, it may of a colossal use for everyone.