How to Help Your Child Fight School Stress
School stress isn’t rare. Practically every child in the performance-heavy Indian education system experiences bouts of stress and anxiety from time to time. Whether this school stress precedes a board examination or a PTA meeting, children need to balance school-life commitments and parents need to be active supporters and facilitators in this fight against stress. Today, Dr. Jitendra Nagpal - Consultant, Psychiatry, Moolchand Medcity - helps us understand how we can help our children fight school stress, the healthy way.
The 5 A’s for fighting exam stress
- Acknowledging the stress and strain: Recognize the stressors and understand their role in affecting/causing mental or physical tension.
- Appreciating what causes your stress: Identify the sources and tackle them once you fully appreciate and understand why you face these stresses by getting to the root of the problem.
- Alleviating the pressures: Observe and rely on simple stress-busting techniques.
- Altering your lifestyle: Once you realise and observe the benefits of relaxation, you will feel encouraged to develop more permanent ways of reducing stress. If stress continues to be persistent, either you haven’t tried the major stress alleviating formulae or, alternately, you haven’t kept them up long enough to deliver the needed result.
- Avoiding: This last step is the toughest but also the most beneficial. You have to start avoiding stress increasing habits and burnouts. Completely avoid sleeping pills, smoking and “memory” pills etc. Avoid irregular eating, sleeping and sedentary habits which may compound the levels of stress.
Parents should play the role of counselors
As a parent, you can help your child fight his/her stress by sharing their concerns and fears. Here are some basic steps to do that:
- Providing a healthy, positive and empathetic emotional environment
- Not comparing your child with others and their achievements
- Rewarding your child on every achievement, no matter how big or small.
- Expecting realistic results from your child
- Not blacklisting activities that your child enjoys
- Encouraging healthy sleep patterns and regular exercise
- Highlighting your child’s strengths often
- Encouraging dialogue to move ahead from past failures
- Maintaing composure when your child announces failure to remember anything just before an exam
- Reassuring your child that everything will be okay as long as they give the exam or task their best shot
- Encouraging help from teachers or school counselors in cases of any difficulties with subjects, or anxieties about examinations.