The Inevitable Boards: How Parents Can Help

By Dr. Ashima Srivastava in Mental Health And Behavioural Sciences , Clinical Psychology

Nov 08 , 2020 | 5 min read

The frightening and pressing ideology that the class 10th and 12th board exams are some of the most crucial of one’s lifetime, has been assuredly passed down from one generation to the next. Though this assertion is largely found to be true, with growing class sizes resulting in growing competition amongst students; board exams have now become more stressful than ever before. The usual narrative involves students and their ability to perform up to expectation in these exams. However, what is oftentimes left out of this discussion is the role of the social support system in assisting a student to obtain his/her fullest potential. Parental support and encouragement is statistically found to do wonders for students in most stressful testing situations.

Students are under intense pressure during exam time; competition for college admission remains high and both pressure from tutors, teachers, and family members can leave young people feeling overwhelmed. Parents may be concerned about how well their child will do – and the knock-on effect on their future prospects. They may worry about their child's level of revision stress (or lack thereof). The financial implications of a child having to repeat a year adds an extra burden. Many parents may feel a sense of powerlessness in not being able to alleviate the suffering of their child. The job as a parent is to help you achieve the optimal balance between being too relaxed and being paralyzed by anxiety. The following tips may help both students and their parents establish a bond and attain equal sustenance from one another.

Don’t compare your children with others: Though board exams are considered to be a milestone in our academic lives, they are not the be-all and end-all of a student’s career. Not all comparison stems from a malicious intent but one has to pay heed to the fact that most students may already be comparing themselves to their peers and siblings internally. To reinforce their fear of relative failure will only shrink their morale and resolve.

Realize the importance of group study: Supervised group study could actually be helpful in regaining self-confidence. Research shows that children do comparatively better when they prepare within a group. Group study allows for the creation of a healthy environment wherein students can nurture one another’s growth and confidence by correction, game activities, providing challenges, and handing out support and encouragement when one is not able to perform up to mark.

Have Dinner together: This tip has less to do with the actual board examinations and more to do with improving family bonding. Most students do not have adequate time to study due to their long school schedules, tuition classes, extra-curricular activities, and homework burden. Assigning time out for a meal as a family can help the student escape this taxing routine and reconnect with members of the family. This addition to the daily routine can also assist parents in monitoring meals of their children as skipping meals is a common finding in students with hectic schedules.

Don’t discuss a bad paper: For most students, Pre-boards exams are just as anxiety-provoking as the actual Board exams. After each day’s exams allow your son or daughter to recount to you their daily story. Do not be tempted to review in detail with them any errors or omissions in the paper. Such a process achieves absolutely nothing, other than to increase the student’s stress levels. Simply allow them the time and space to tell their story and move on to the next challenge, the next paper.

Do not disconnect the Internet, restrict it: For many parents, it is almost an instinctive act to disconnect any medium of even the most remote distraction. The internet has its downsides and can be a heavy distraction if appropriate measures are not taken. It is equally vital to recognize that students can also benefit from internet use: to download informative videos, to find previous year question papers, and to communicate with tutors and teachers during the preparation period. Thus placing time restrictions on internet activity as well as laying down guidelines for internet use can assist in curbing the disrupting effects internet use has.

Recognize that success is a team effort: Drawing on the support of everything that is potentially positive in a student’s life helps to maximize exam performance. Such supports include a heightened awareness on the part of all family members in their interactions with the student before and during exams, appropriate interactions with their friends, and participation in any sporting or social activity that is not injurious to ongoing success in the exams. All these factors help to maintain a student’s spirits during such an extended preparation and exam period.

Help them maintain a well-balanced routine: Parents should ensure their sons/daughters have a proper balance between study and rest. After an exam or study session, they need time to rest and recharge before they can do any beneficial study for the next subject. Remember that learning happens best when one is stress-free and well-rested; so parents should assist their children in developing a sleep-wake routine for maximum rest. Late-night study sessions are ill-advised and ultimately do more harm than good.

Do not overhype the importance of any examination: It is very easy in the middle of a stress-inducing experience to get the whole event totally out of perspective. Parents need to be aware that sons or daughters taking board examinations can sometimes mistakenly believe their standing in their parents’ eyes is dependent on their success in the exam. Parents should ensure their child is absolutely clear that your unconditional love and regard for them is in no way dependent on how they perform in the board examination. This affirmation is the greatest gift you can give them at the start of their examinations.

Engaging with challenging experiences such as finals and important exams is essential for young people to develop internal skills and resources, and will provide them with the confidence and emotional resilience needed to cope with the future challenges of work and adult life.