In the past few weeks, there has been a surge of anxious parents in our clinic. The board exams are near, parents are worried and the kids are edgy. Many of them are taking a board exam for the first time. For many parents, too, it's their first experience. We have tried to answer a few questions that we have received in this context.
Q: I have a daughter who is appearing for her Class X exams.
She studies with the help of a couple of tuitions and gets decent marks. However, she cries a lot during exam time and everytime she says she's going to flunk.
She's our only daughter, and both my husband and I feel helpless during her exams. Sometimes we feel she is having a nervous breakdown and we really don't know what to do.
We understand that your daughter shows this kind of behaviour during all her exams, yet she gets decent marks. Assuming that this has been her standard behaviour and despite this has ended up with decent marks, both you and your husband can calm down.
Understand that though her crying and anxiety may be stemming from a genuine concern about her performance, she is not yet able to gauge the degree of her preparation.
This is something that many children go through.
As a parent, you need to give them space to vent, yet at the same time, gently bring their focus back to the job at hand. Later, after the exams, take this up with your daughter and let her know that she doesn't have to panic as much as she does. You may also consider taking professional help from a counsellor to help your daughter break this behavioural pattern.
But at this eleventh hour, any effort to try and change her can backfire.
So for the time being, stay calm and be there for your daughter with words of positive encouragement. Be gentle, and not forceful, to help her stay on track. Try not to sound as if you are trivialising the matter and be available for her when she rants, like when she says she's going to fail. Tell her calmly that she just needs to focus on her exam, not the marks. In your mind tell yourself this is just a phase and she will take the exam and perform just as she has done before.
Q: My son is appearing for his board exams. We feel he is not studying enough. He's always been very sharp but lazy. During this last leg of preparation, when his classmates are studying 12- 16 hours, he studies a maximum of 8- 10 hours. He sleeps during the day for a couple of hours and takes frequent breaks while studying. His five- minute breaks invariably turn into 15 minutes and if we try to push him, he gets angry, sulks and does not study for the next few hours. The atmosphere in the house becomes tense.
How do we encourage him to study more so that he can perform according to his potential?
In this last leg of preparation, it is important that your son stays mentally and emotionally healthy. Anger, bitterness and a feeling of being pressured can be counter- productive.
We all learn, store and recall information differently. Our ability to focus and how we make an effort varies from person to person, much like our intelligence.
The ability to focus for more than an hour at a time is a learnt behaviour; it requires practice and time.
Given that your son is just about to take his board exams, this may not be the best time to ask him to change his study pattern. You can remind him gently, and with positive words, to reduce the duration of his breaks.
As far as the sleeping goes, a child needs seven to eight hours of sleep for him/ her to perform optimally, to remember and recall better. It is during our sleep time that our memories are formed. So let him get his rest.
It is difficult to stay calm when you see your child is not performing as best as he can. But be patient and calm. Having conflicts at this time is not going to help either him or you.
In the rush to push your child to be the best, do not harm your relationship with him.
We wish all the best to our young readers for their upcoming exams.
Dr Sangbarta Chattopadhyay and Dr Namita Bhuta are medical practitioners, psychotherapists and life coaches Share your problems with them at
dr. sangbarta@ gmail. com