Help your child deal with exam stress: Here's how
The pressure to score "good marks" in exams is extremely overwhelming for students. From constant comparisons with their peers to an unreasonably high benchmark set by the institutions, these young minds keep their mental health at the backseat to meet everyone's expectations. And upon failing in doing so, they may take drastic steps in frustration, leading to grave consequences for them and their parents.
Why does this story matter?
- Students dying by suicide owing to exam stress isn't something unknown.
- As per recent news, many appearing for class 10th board examinations in Hyderabad made their way to hospitals as they experienced anxiety and panic attacks.
- A 15-year-old class 10th girl from Karnataka ended her life due to exam stress. "I'm sorry mummy pappa. Can't score over 95%" she wrote in her suicide note.
Have frequent pep talks and interact as much as possible
Suppressing thoughts and emotions is a direct way to invite stress and anxiety. Your child may decline to talk to you out of fear of being scolded, judged, lectured, or punished. Make them comfortable and ask them to share everything going on with them. This will help them empty their mind of unnecessary fear and get some good insights from you.
Get them to practice meditation and yoga daily
It is very normal for your child to bid adieu to exercise months or weeks before their board examinations begin. However, do not let them do that. Doing a physical activity they love can boost their confidence, keep them fresh, and release endorphins (a happy hormone) against cortisol (the stress hormone). Also, reserve 30 minutes of meditation or yoga in their timetable.
Ensure they are sleeping well, eating healthy, and drinking water
During exams, it is very common to skip meals and water. Your child may even end up losing sleep due to stress. All of this can take a toll on both their physical and mental health. Make sure they are sleeping for seven-eight hours daily, eating nutritious homecooked food, and drinking enough water to stay hydrated. This will keep them energized and healthy.
Avoid asking too much about how their exam was
When your child comes back home after appearing for an examination, avoid going into the details and refrain from asking too many questions, particularly about their test. They return from a highly stressful time interval and need a break from it to gear up for the next one. Instead, help them calm down, do some fun things together, and allow them to rest well.
Set healthy boundaries
Although you may come from a place of concern, there are high chances of you instead coming out as controlling or restrictive. Avoid that by setting healthy boundaries and letting your child practice some independence or autonomy. Let them curate their own schedule and timetable. Later, you may sit with them and discuss better ideas and suggestions for a healthier way to approach exams.
Signs that your child is experiencing exam stress
Your child may experience either or all signs of exam stress including sudden mood swings, reduced appetite or overeating, affected sleep cycle, frequent nightmares, nervousness, a racing heartbeat, anxiety, panic attacks, episodes of crying, anger, or irritation, avoiding interactions or discussions, headaches, fidgeting, nail-biting, etc.