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Exam stress. Fear of failure. Student suicides. What can parents do (and not do) to ensure that their kids do not fall prey to this seasonal epidemic?
Every one of us have their fears and throughout our lives we keep fighting with them. Some of us completely overcome our fears, others manage to keep their fight on till the end. FEAR is a powerful weapon when used against people and can wreak havoc when its self-inflicted. I have met many people who despite fighting some fear internally will never acknowledge the fact that they have these fears in life, whereas the people who come up and speak openly about their fears are automatically termed as “weak”.
Fears if not dealt with in a sensible and timely fashion can lead the person to depression or other mental issues.We are living in such times where these mental illnesses are affecting kids and adults alike.
Since childhood we have been told stories about something bad that will happen to us if we don’t follow what our parents asked us to do. This is the inception of FEAR in young minds. If we don’t succeed in getting good grades in school we have the fear of not getting into good colleges and career going down the drain- this is the biggest fear during formative years of our childhood.
I still remember that we all had that one subject in school which we feared the most, and as a result never succeeded in the exams of that subject – this is the fear which leads us to perform badly no matter how hard we try to overcome it (I still get nightmares about badly failing in that subject!!).
You become a teenager, and you have so many other fears engulfing you- fear of physical appearance, insecurities in love life, peer pressure, and above all not able to excel academically.
Now all these fears have an enormous detrimental effect on your mental well-being, which leads to early signs of depression, and in some cases where these fears completely overpower your thinking ability – negative thoughts start about your whole existence.
I personally feel that if the fear of exam or performing well is taken out from the mind of the students the grades will automatically be better. No one wants to score low on purpose?! In the USA at the elementary level, exams are taken and assessments happen, but the kids never know that they appeared for an exam, nor are parents informed when the exams are scheduled- this helps a lot to keep young minds fearless and perform to best of abilities.
I have some personal experiences wherein after the board exams if the results are not up to mark we think that this is the end of life, not knowing that failing is part of the journey and not “end” of it. These are the times when parents should become the biggest support for the kids, rather than comparing them with others.
You can give them much needed hope by citing examples of people who despite all these failures are doing so well in life. Let the kids come to you in the early stages of their school lives with problems related to emotional stress or academic performance. You be the beacon of hope for them rather than instigating fear in them about failure.
All these stories in news that we hear about suicides among kids especially after the board results is only because of the FEAR we as parents have instigated in their minds since childhood.
The kids have not seen the world but we are more experienced. We know that in life if one door closes there is definitely some other opening- but we must hold their hands and help them find this opening. We should have such a relationship with our children that if anything horrible happens to them in life they should treat us as their first line of defense. We must work hard as parents to build that confidence and rapport with our kids.
We are raising the generation called iGen/Gen Z so be very cognizant of the fact that the techniques by which we were raised will no longer work on this generation. They have influence from not just their peer group or family but the whole world which is at their fingertips through electronic media. They might feel more comfortable expressing their emotions online than to a person sitting next to them. The importance of mental well-being among young generation has gained more importance in today’s world where majority of relations are remote and reality is “Facebook”!!
I strongly believe that the best gift that we can give to our kids is the ability to fight their fears- which can be of any type and in any phase of their life. This will automatically give them the wisdom to choose freely from the choices that life offers without thinking about doomed failures. These kids are future adults, we must invest in their mental and emotional well-being more than anything else. Lets not focus solely on getting the career path set for the kids- Life ahead of them is much more than a career, it should be a life which is a constant journey towards achieving happiness.
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