"Unknowingly, I Created Tremendous Pressure On My Child Before Board Exams" - A Mom Confesses
Created by Nandini Muralidharan Updated on Mar 14, 2021
It has been a few days since the board exams got over and me and my daughter are celebrating by taking a nice, relaxing vacation. She deserves this vacation so much. After all the stress, anxiety and pressure to perform well in the board exams, we are finally over it now. So, I want to make sure she is relaxed and hassle-free. But, it was not all rosy back in the house just a few days ago. Yes, my house had a very tensed environment during the board exam phase. My daughter was physically and emotionally exhausted and somewhere down the line, I realized that I was partly responsible for her stress. I constantly created pressure on her for scoring good marks until one day I realized how all my constant pushing was impacting her in a bad way.
It was a few weeks before the board exams when my friend, Neerja came to visit us for an evening tea. When she met my daughter, she said, “Oh my, Nandini! Your daughter looks so pale! Why is she looking so exhausted? Why has she become so quiet?” That is when I began to notice changes in my daughter – both physically and emotionally. Her face was gaunt. Her eyes looked sunken and had a panic-stricken look in them. She hardly uttered a few words at the dining table (if she came down for dinner, that is!) Otherwise, she just had a quick bite in her room all by herself while studying, and when this continued for several weeks, my husband and I started to worry. Our daughter used to be a jolly girl, what has happened to her suddenly! I decided to speak to her.
We sat down with coffee in our hands. I wanted this to be a two-way conversation. But, it ended up with just me talking to her and saying things like “This is it! This exam is going to decide your future.” Or, “It’s game time – you need to pull up your socks and really deliver, this time.” Or, “Your dad and I didn’t get to where we are by watching television.” “You will never get a good job anywhere if you score less than 90%.” Well, my monologues were intense and endless.
At the end of our long chat, I was all fumed up and stressed and my little girl broke down crying. It is at that moment when I realized how much pressure I had created for her. She was already tensed about exams and I didn’t really help.
So, parents, if you are prepping up your son or daughter for the next board exams, take these learnings from me. It will help you and your child deal with exam stress better.
Things I Did To Help My Daughter Cope With Exam Stress
After that day I took small steps to change my attitude towards this whole exam episode. Here are some things I did to help my daughter come out of her shell and beat the stress. Of course, to start with, apologies were in order. I apologized and poured my heart out to my baby girl about why I behaved the way I did. I never meant to create such pressure on her right before board exams. And then, the following things helped:
- Ways to de-stress: One of the things my daughter told me when she finally opened up was that she felt claustrophobic. What she meant was, she was expected to study for hours together without a proper stress buster or break.
Since she loves tennis and has great tennis buddies, we decided that every evening she would play with her friends for an hour.
We also activated our cable TV connection that we had disconnected the previous month. And guess what? She wasn’t spending hours in front of the TV. Post lunch, she’d watch a few minutes of her favourite sitcom and then get back to work.
- Language and body language: One of the biggest stress factors for my daughter was the constant so-called pep-talk my husband and I were giving her. And not just that, our body language showed a lot of expectation, stress and “don’t disappoint us” was the undercurrent. All this just went on to demotivate her, and scare her instead of encouraging her. So instead, we made ourselves more relaxed and spoke about general topics of interest when she joined us at the dinner table.
- Empathy: Don’t you remember a time when the exam pressure pulled you down? I stepped into my daughter’s shoes and felt ashamed of my behaviour. I told her funny anecdotes about the time I went to the exam hall in my bathroom slippers and the time I ran out of ink. This made me more human to her, and less scary-mom.
- Evening walks: Lastly, we made a mommy-daughter routine; we started going on 20-minute walks every night after dinner where we didn’t talk about school or exam. We did this for a while and it was not just refreshing for her but for me too. The changes didn’t occur overnight. But, over the course of the exam period, my daughter really bounced back.
I feel thankful that I recognized the stress symptoms in her early enough to help her. I request all wonderful parents who are prepping their child for the next board exams to take a step back and help your child sail through this stressful period with love and support.
Your child needs you to be on the same team. Your child needs your support more than ever during board exams. So, help your child #ReleaseThePressure. And if you think your child needs professional counselling and help at any point in time, call Fortis’ 24X7 stress helpline number - +91 8376804102. This number is functional throughout the year.
Was this blog helpful to you? In fact, I would insist you watch this video to understand what your child may feel due to exam pressure. Click here to realise it for yourself
Disclaimer:This is an initiative by Mirinda to help parents support their child to beat the exam stress. Opinions expressed above are independent opinions of the author.