Parenting: Tips for children to manage the stress of board exams

Internally, opt out of the battle to beat others and settle in a state where you promise yourself that you will do your very best

By Asha Iyer Kumar

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Published: Thu 18 Jan 2024, 8:25 PM

Dear Children,

It is that time of the year again – many of you must have shifted gears already and got into a heightened ‘boards’ mode. I say ‘heightened’ because the jitters must have risen now, after being reminded all year about the impending ordeal by teachers and parents. For all those who are on tenterhooks now, I want to say, ‘Take a deep breath. It is only a test, not a trial.’

Although there is a growing consensus that board exams should not be made such a big deal, it still continues to be a bogey in our academic circles turning you all into near mental wrecks by the time the exams kick off. Contrary to what you must have been told time and again, I am saying, ‘Relax. The boards are significant but they don’t decide what you will become in life.’

As hardworking students, I have no doubt you have all been putting in your best and that is enough. You must have chalked out a plan and worked on a methodology. Now it is time to mould your mindset.

No matter how much pressure those around you apply on your nerves goading you to be a super-achiever, tell yourself that you are not running a race. Internally, opt out of the battle to beat others and settle in a state where you promise yourself that you will do your very best. Let your conscience be a witness to the commitment you make to yourself. When you realise that all your efforts are directed towards your own future and no one else’s, you will not laze or loiter. You will be conscious at every step that if you don’t strive enough, you will have no one but yourself to blame when your life falters.

Convince your parents that you are giving your best and let them know of your difficulties. Have an open conversation with them explaining your position with regards to the preparations. If, God forbid, you fall short, they will know it was not because you didn’t try enough.

Have faith in your capabilities as a learner. What happens in the three hours cannot determine your calibre and no matter what you score (despite your best efforts), be determined to do well in life. Define success in your own terms and work towards achieving it, rather than follow a template set by others.

Instead of playing the question ‘what if I don’t do well?’ in your mind on a loop and building up needless pressure, tell yourself that you are trying with all your might and be proud of it. It is not about how many hours your friends stay awake or who burns the midnight oil that should determine your confidence. Don’t compare and stress about what others are doing; focus on your goal, for your destination isn’t the same as the others’.

We have made ‘exam tension’ a tradition, something in the absence of which a student’s life is deemed incomplete. We must be serious about our pursuits and have the required amount of ‘pressure’ so we remain focussed, but we must not become paranoid because the boards are only the beginning of life’s long list of tests.

I am reminded of how my sister, many decades ago, closed her books on the eve of her 12th boards and went with me to watch a movie. She knew she had prepared as well as she could and there was no use hyperventilating about the next day. It was an informed decision of iconic proportions, for when the results came, she topped the university!

Until next, keep glowing; keep growing.

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