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Role of Parental Support in Enhancing Student Performance During Exam Season

Exam season often brings with it a whirlwind of emotions- a major one being stress, for both students as well as parents. It can be challenging for parents to navigate the balance between offering support and allowing independence. Parents must encourage the students to stay focused while also managing their negative emotions.

EPN Desk29 March 2024 06:14

Image: Simran Bathija

Image: Simran Bathija

Exam season often brings with it a whirlwind of emotions- a major one being stress, for both students as well as parents. It can be challenging for parents to navigate the balance between offering support and allowing independence. Parents must encourage the students to stay focused while also managing their negative emotions.

Exam periods can be quite tedious for parents, especially when their children start to display signs of agitation or frustration. The kids may lash out, excessively worry or cry, and experience major shifts in their circadian rhythm. As a parent, it is easy to get concerned by these behaviours and allow our minds to magnify them into significant issues. However, the ‘holy trinity of support’ becomes our greatest asset in such situations.

Let’s address parental do’s and dont’s during exam season. The ‘holy trinity of support’ includes withholding negative remarks, avoiding micromanagement and steering clear of comparisons. Instead, it is important to encourage healthy habits. Physical health directly impacts mental health, and thus, it is important to ensure your child maintains a balanced routine with adequate sleep, nutritious meals and regular exercise.

Fostering a calm and positive environment is most important. Maintaining a peaceful and conducive atmosphere at home will ensure that the child can pay full attention to their studies. It is also integral that we celebrate the students’ efforts. We must acknowledge the hard work that our child is putting in, regardless of the outcome. It is, however, important that we encourage our child to take breaks whenever necessary and help them recognise and manage their anxiety.

Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways. Some students may procrastinate excessively, others may have trouble sleeping. Some might vomit before an exam while some may get tense and lash out. It is essential to remind our children that at the end of the day- exams are not determinant of who they are or their future. They are important to help track progress and keep students immersed in gaining knowledge, but they are not the end all be all. To manage exam anxiety and stress, as parents it is necessary to take this pressure off of the child. We must help them disassociate their self worth from their grades, and explore the various options that the future could hold for them. We must encourage open and honest communication about their thoughts and feelings.

We often fall into the trap of comparing our children with others. However, nothing good comes out of it. Constant comparison can lower a child’s self esteem and make them feel inadequate. Comparison also breeds resentment among peers, damages relationships and fosters a tense environment. It can also lead to children pursuing a field that does not align with their interests, out of sheer pressure of competition. They end up losing sight of their individuality, and their unique talents are overshadowed. They start to rely on external validation, and always feel unfulfilled and like they are not good enough.

Providing emotional support during exams is a key aspect of helping the children manage stress and anxiety effectively. We must listen to our children actively without judgement, and validate how they feel. We must encourage realistic expectations and emphasise that the result is not of utmost importance. We must practise mindfulness with them and help them learn strategies to cope best with their emotions. We must normalise feelings of stress and anxiety, and stress upon the universality of these emotions.

The most important aspect of offering support isn’t a single technique- but in fact, it is just being present. Being available and there for our children means much more to them than we think it does. Offering our unbiased and unconditional love and guidance is all they truly want from us. We need to let them know that as parents, we are there to back them in their times of need. Being present embodies a deep sense of empathy and understanding, far beyond any technique an article could teach you. Being present communicates that you value your children’s well being, and you prioritise their needs and their mental health.

Parents, amidst the challenges of supporting your children during exam periods, remember that you are doing your best. Your efforts, however, can be further enriched with a few key strategies: Firstly, prioritise being present for your child. Your unwavering support and attentive presence can make a world of difference in their journey through exams. Secondly, foster a positive environment at home by encouraging realistic expectations, offering words of encouragement, and celebrating their efforts, regardless of outcomes. Lastly, don't underestimate the power of listening. Sometimes, all your child needs is a compassionate ear to express their feelings and concerns. In conclusion, while the road through exams may be fraught with stress and challenges, your presence, positivity, and listening ear can serve as pillars of support for your child. Keep doing your best, and remember that your support is invaluable in helping them navigate this journey with confidence and resilience.

(This article is written by Ms Simran Bathija, who is a Psychologist with a Clinical specialisation. She teaches Psychology and is also the Counsellor for Primary as well as the ISC Section at Jasudben ML School)

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