December 21, 2015

For parents: Road to exams needn't be testing times

I wrote this for the blog section of an education website, for which my friends have taken up the content generation work. I wrote this in one go, and I now realise I've a flair for preaching, giving lecture. No wonder I don't have a girlfriend. (#JustKidding)

Here's the write-up (I don't even know why I'm posting it here):

Come winter, children find their parents adopting an unusually no-nonsense approach towards their studies. The teenagers are told to cut the time they spend outside home and devote more time to study. The exams are drawing near, after all.

Students are aware how crucial the board or PU exams are and approach preparation with varying levels of sincerity, according to their level of motivation and interest. They go about their preparation with a nonchalance that sets off the panic alarm in their parents' psyche.

For many a middle-class parent, exam is an entity to be dreaded, like He Who Must Not Be Named. They cannot fathom how their child could be so naive as to prepare so little for the inevitable face-off with The Dark Lord. They start putting pressure on their ward. After all, it's his/her life that's at stake.

While their wards' academics should be a concern for every parent, it should never be a worry. However, that's what many parents do. They worry to an extent that the feeling of fear surrounding exams and marks seeps into the impressionable mind of their children. And this turns a regular, annual event of student life into a rough experience for many students.

Sadly, every year declaration of results is followed by a spate of suicides and suicide attempts by many schoolchildren. Fear, shame and guilt makes some to run away. Even in the run-up to the exams, many face a nervous breakdown. Every year, the government sets up helplines ahead of exams, so that students can speak to counsellors to soothe their frayed nerves. It is certainly a laudable step on the part of the government, but prevention is better than cure and that is where the role of parents comes.

If you are a parent and your child is set to face her school life's final exam this year, ask yourself if you're being harsh on her. By any chance, is your behaviour telling her she's worthless unless she studies hard and scores well? Does she know you'll still love her if she doesn't meet your expectations or does she think her marks are all that matter to you?

Adolescence is when children need their parents the most. But when they are met with disapproval instead of unconditional love, when they feel their report card is the be-all-and-end-all of who they are, their self-esteem takes a beating. Just like their parents berate them, they too start berating themselves. They think they are of no value. It's in this state of mind that children take extreme steps. And while not every disappointed kid resorts to such desperate measures, the scars thus brought upon a teenager result in her growing up to be an underconfident, damaged adult.

It is crucial that parents handle their wards in a sensible manner. Do pull them up when they slacken. Do tell them to get off Romedy Now and pick up their book. Be strict, but be loving too. Never nag them. Tell them what you expect of them and you'd be proud if they achieved it. Tell them you only want them to make a sincere effort. Push them at times, but never too hard. 

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