…but they have boards!!
MM, 37 yr mother of twins, on examination was found to have pulse 118/min (normal is below 90) and a BP of 180/110 (3 months back she was at normal of 132/82). She was jittery, trembling and on the verge of crying. She had been tested for all causes of high blood pressure & any thyroid disorder!
On closer questioning it was realized that she had been sleeping for barely 1-2 hours all of last 2 months. She is a career woman and was on special leave (working from home) for these 2 months.
Her twins were appearing for Xth board; with both having different temperaments – one seriously studious and the other just not interested in studies as she wants to become a model – was proving too much for MM to cope and her condition was attributed to ‘physiological body response to stress’ – an inability to cope with the scenario around!
MM is not the only one; actually she represents what most mothers go through as exam stress – either WITH their child or FOR their child. Some kids are over stressed and mothers worry with them to ensure that they can cope; whereas others just aren’t bothered about the exams (over confident or uber cool) making mothers stressed much more – what will happen when we start looking for a good college? What will I tell my friends? MM, unfortunately had both side of her bread buttered heavily.
Have you noticed; even in this ‘exam stress’ we follow a strict matriarchal system! Fathers are conspicuous by their absence and at times would prod the ‘care-taker’ – I am telling you! Just relax OR I am telling you, he is beyond help!
A stressed mother is bad to have around as it also disturbs the child. Most mothers (parents), because they are stressed, keep on delivering verbal punches, “I am fed up of constantly begging you to study” or to a friend on phone “I am stressed as if I am appearing for boards; she is just not concerned”. The child needs extra care and support from parent(s) during this stressful time and having a stressed person hovering around becomes too much to cope. He/ she just doesn’t get the love and understanding he/she needs.
Do not forget that, on most instances, the child has done well in earlier exams and he/ she has a definitive way to study (which is bound to be different than your own/ everyone else’s). To reduce/eliminate exam stress for both, start early and have a definitive plan. Few tips (from how I handled my 3 princesses):
Communicate and discuss with your child, well in advance, about how she/ he is feeling regarding the upcoming exams? How confident is he? Are there any specific areas of concern?
Take time and reassure them that you will be always there to support and guide. If he/ she is unsure; it is vital to encourage him/her.
Be an observer and intervene ONLY if you feel things are just not going as per the plan. The main support I provided was waking up the child at the designated hour and making sure enough nutritious food was around. Most children fear that they may get up with the set alarm and the schedule will go awry.
Avoid repeated instructions. Ensure that your own stress and frustration (work load / personal life) do not spill over onto the child. Provide moral support and encouragement.
Plan some fun/ relaxation time into the schedule, as this is both necessary and will help him/ her feel fresh and retain things better – kind of a recharge!
Even if you are strongly tempted to compare your child with some other child, please do not! Remember that every child is unique and has his/her own strengths and capacities. Comparison will, for sure, have a negative effect.
Learn to reward – not for the results but for the efforts putt in! Even a compliment is a reward.
Helping a child cope with his/ her exam stress is a sure shot way to handle parent’s (mother’s) stress.
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.