UAE: Exam stress in post-Covid times should be handled carefully, say experts

Stress of Board exams should a shared responsibility where parents and children can be of help to each other


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Fri 18 Mar 2022, 4:31 PM

Students in the UAE are preparing for their upcoming exams, as countries resume pre-Covid-19 activities.

Experts opine as students transition from remote examination methods to being physically present in the examination room, many pupils may experience stress or feel pressurised.

They highlight this pressure may often spread from students to parents, and even affect households.

As students get anxious about their imminent exams, parents and schools must take care to handle such cases carefully.

Girish Hemnani, Energy Healer and Life Coach says, “Stress is inevitable be it exams or professional work hence it needs to be well managed. The stress of Board exams can be seen as a shared responsibility where parents and children can be of help to each other. It's well noticed that too much stress-energy can have adverse effects, as it radiates even if not expressed verbally. The performance and potential of a child get impacted when moralistic judgements are passed. Blame, insults, put-downs, labels, criticism, comparisons, and diagnoses are all forms of judgement that are not helpful for children or even adults to give in their best.”

Parents can watch out for feelings of stress, fear, helplessness, disappointment, low mood and motivation, negative thoughts, and mind blanking.

They must be mindful of not adding more pressure by constantly talking about exams.

Dr Mohamed Abdelbadie, Specialist Psychiatrist, at Burjeel Royal Hospital, Al Ain opines, “The pressure and anxiety can result in physical symptoms like headache, body pain, nausea, excessive sweating, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, lightheadedness, and feeling faint. Exam anxiety can also manifest as behavioural symptoms like difficulty concentrating, thinking negatively, comparing oneself to others, and procrastinating. Another tell-tale sign of their struggle with exam anxiety may be their constant engagement with gadgets.”

Experts highlight that parents should contribute to building their child's self-esteem by encouraging them rather than advising them.

Parents should also try to earn their children’s trust by not blowing things out of proportion and coming to quick conclusions.

Dr Ameya Ghanekar, Gallup Certified Strengths Coach, says, “Every parent needs to accept that their children have not gone through the most difficult academic experience in the recent past. The ways and modes of education have been way too different as compared to the examination or evaluation pattern otherwise. If the child feels like he/she is not able to cope up with the old normal pattern of exams, please have a conversation. Listen to the worries and queries they have, than closing the topic with an authoritative reply. Being there for the children is the key to effective parenting.”

Parents at home, and teachers at school, should conduct mock exams to help children once again to get acquainted with the earlier ways of examinations.

“It will be wonderful if parents could be a learning partner with the child and make them feel that they are with them during this change. Parents could have casual quiz contests based on the curriculum of the children to make learning as fun family activity than a pressured experience,” he added.


Some tips that parents, students, and schools can follow:

1. Adhere to a healthy lifestyle, especially by sleeping and waking up early, avoiding too much caffeine, practicing light exercise, and eating healthily.

2. A few minutes of meditation and prayers will help.

3. Stay in the supportive company of your family and friends.

4. Stick to a balanced strategy and daily plan.

5. Trust yourself and avoid negative thoughts.

6. Don't hesitate to seek help from your parents, teachers, and friends.

7. Parents must not add to the pressure by only speaking about the exams. They can talk about other topics that will help the child relax.

8. Try going for short outings without affecting study time.

9. If a student is showing severe anxiety, parents or schools should contact a psychiatrist/ psychologist for professional advice and counsel.

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