The exam season for many is scarier than ‘the flu season’.

It is a season that consumes the entire family making their social calendars undergo a massive transformation. For most Indian families with school-going children, the next couple of months will be like an emotional roller coaster. Some great days, some good and some confused/filled with unending worries will be the order of the day.

But the exam warrior moms have to pause and take a deep breath.

These are merely exams, a system to grade children at the end of an academic year and not the end of the world. There is so much more in life to ace. Let us not overburden ourselves with unnecessary stress.

But what is exam stress? What are the recognizable symptoms of stress?

They could be

  • Disturbed sleep cycles. Unable to sleep or not wanting to wake up and tackle the day.
  • Decreasing personal hygiene.
  • Falling ill often. Headaches.
  • Mood swings. Inability to make decisions and lack of coherency.
  • Not wanting to socialize or meet friends anymore. Easily overwhelmed by challenges.

The next question to ponder is why do students have exam stress?

The following could be some of the reasons

  • The underlying fear that they haven’t prepared enough, not covered the syllabus properly or in its entirety and hence they might fail.
  • The projection of parents’ fear on the child about the child’s capabilities, the humungous burden of parents’ and societal expectations on the child or the trauma of peer pressure on both.
  • In spite of the child’s willingness to fare well by working hard, sometimes vast syllabus, and inadequate prep time leaves the child with a sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach.
  • The load of carrying forward the family’s lofty standards, low self-esteem and scattered attention spans
  • The sheer mind-boggling competition around and the limited seats available for further education.

So, how does one avoid stress?

By regularizing life. By making simple changes. By adapting good habits. By planning everything beforehand and adhering!

  • Depending on the exam timings, a daily routine around the same should be developed
  • The day should be divided clearly into block times with sufficient time allocated to daily activities, entertainment and rigour of studies.
  • A study list for the day is imperative. So is rewarding self upon achieving the targets. Breaking down the tasks into simple hour modules makes the syllabus manageable.
  • Mind mapping the core content, using sticky notes, decluttering the study area and keeping it free of distractions helps immensely.
  • The curricula must be tackled in order of importance leaving adequate time for repeated revision by taking multiple tests.
  • The students must actively seek the teachers’ guidance and form buddy groups for support.
  • Taking regular short breaks and indulging in happiness-inducing activities makes one feel much better
  • Focus is attained by drastically reducing frivolous online activities and increasing real-world interactions. Hydrating enough, avoiding junk and taking timely healthy balanced meals, exercising to loosen those tight muscles and meditating to keep the soul calm, strengthen the core
  • Trusting the parents, their very own innermost circle of succour, bravely asking for help and seeking support from peers when in a tough emotional spot may be easier said than done but is the need of the hour.

On exam day, the students should get a good night’s sleep to recharge their brains and get up with a fresh mind. A light and nutritious breakfast and rapid breathing exercises set the tone of the day. Revision of key concepts is a must.

They should organize their stationery, bags and reference study material the previous night, and answer the question paper after reading it thoroughly and mentally allocating appropriate time for each section and revision.

I am sure most moms are already following these measures religiously with their children.

Additionally, please don’t forget to handhold/cuddle/wrap them in a warm hug even if they get irritated and push you away angrily

My two bits here as a war veteran mom!

Firstly think from the perspective of your child who is the main stakeholder and who has been through the wringer. His/her sagacity, composure, and the worldly view will definitely astound you. Listen to them and keep talking to them about the situation outside. Ask their take on the same.

Secondly, the children deserve a periodic break. Let there not be any pressure for a few days at least to study!

Thirdly, utilise this break to connect and communicate with each other. In crunch time, it is the family that counts. Have daily goals to ace.

Please make your children read – anything goes, whatever catches their fancy – Build upon their linguistic skills. It will help in college admissions immensely

Lastly, keep a backup, a backup to backup and another backup for your ward’s higher education. Save for their future!

True, though the modus operandi of current education might feel chaotic and muddled, I request you, moms, to not keep harping on the same at home, with your children. Let us stop comparing with others. Each story is different.

Adulting is a serious business and the path to it is riddled with bucketloads of anxiety and truckloads of self-doubt. The children will do well, I am sure. Their stoicism and the ability to rise to the demands of the changing world are immense. What they need at this point in time, is constant reassurance and the family’s complete backing. Build their self-esteem by constantly assuring them that ‘we are there in this together’. Share with them your coping mechanisms, sure shot solutions for retaining sanity. Let us minimise the negativity because a positive outlook will make a big difference to their final performance.

According to Psychologists, there are four types of Intelligence:

  • Intelligence Quotient
  • Emotional Quotient
  • Social Quotient
  • Adversity Quotient
  1. Intelligence Quotient or IQ, the measure of comprehension, helps in solving problems, memorizing and recalling concepts.
  2. Emotional Quotient or EQ is the measure of our emotional responses to external stimuli
  3. Social Quotient or SQ is the measure of one’s ability to build a network and sustain it over a period of time
  4. The Adversity Quotient or AQ is the measure of one’s ability to go through rough patches in life, and come out of them without losing grip.

As parents, we should expose our children to a wide variety of disciplines other than core Academics. We must endeavour to develop their IQ, as well as their EQ, SQ and AQ so that they grow into multifaceted, independent and right-thinking human beings. Right parenting makes a difference.

People who have higher AQ, EQ and SQ tend to go further in life than those with a high IQ but low EQ and SQ.

Exams are merely a small testing part of this journey called life. They don’t define the entire journey. Each journey ultimately is unique!