Helping Parents and Teachers Manage Exam Stress

Students all over Singapore are gearing up in preparation for their year-end examinations, and it is common to hear about the stress they feel during this season. However, something not usually discussed is the fact that parents and teachers are feeling the heat too. How can parents and teachers alike handle the stress effectively, so that they can equip their children and students to do likewise?

Dealing with Your Own Emotions

First and foremost, there are some questions that can be answered. Parents, have you set conditions for love towards your children? Have you ever said, "Get these results or do this my way and then I will love you?" Such messages always undermine motivation. We may not say it outright, but do we send such messages unknowingly from our tone of voice or non-verbal signals?

Also, do you look to your children for "completion", or do you try to live out your dreams through them? Such attitudes can unknowingly put unnecessary pressure on yourself and unfair expectations on your children. Ultimately, children need to know they are loved with a non-judgmental love - we love them not because they are performing, but we love them in spite of anything and everything they do.

Teachers, have you allowed the rat race to put too much stress on yourself and on your students? Expectations from our bosses and from parents can be overwhelming, but it is necessary to regularly de-stress in order to carry on in the long haul. If a run helps you clear your head, aim to do so at least once a week. If chilling out over a cup of coffee, reading a book, or taking a walk at the beach is what does the trick, schedule it into your calendar. Though that means time away from accomplishing more work, it can do wonders for your mental and physical health.

Helping Our Children and Students Thrive

Helping our children and students do their best academically does not have to involve overbearing discipline and harsh scolding. Learning and studying can be made fun too. In fact, fun is serious business for a happy family. Parents can, and should, create a positive atmosphere even during examination time. Going for a walk alone with your child, playing a game of Happy Family, and even crazy ideas like camping in the living room can help your child de-stress and relax. Even class time can be enjoyable. Surprise your students with little chocolate treats just for fun, or tell a few jokes, even if it makes them groan. When students are happy, they are more likely to be better learners too.

Undoubtedly, stress will rear its ugly head at times, and the key is helping our children handle it well. It is important to remember that our job as parents and teachers is to help them deal with these stresses and emotions effectively rather than shelter them or dismiss these realities. Keep a look out for symptoms of stress like headaches, stomachaches, depression and loss of appetite. Recognize that negative emotions can be opportunities for intimacy and teaching, where we can help them talk about their emotions and let them feel understood.

As parents and teachers, we naturally want the best for our children and students. Equipping them to do well in their examinations is important, but so is helping them become happy and effective learners not just in the school setting, but for life.

© 2015 Focus on the Family Singapore Ltd.

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