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Understanding exam stress among children

Almost all of us have dealt with sleepless nights when trying to study for exams. Many of us did make light of it and just laughed the results off. However, there are a lot of children who are not capable of doing the same. No matter what the reasons are, they have started believing that all these tests and exams are of utmost importance and the biggest determinant of their success or their future. This exam stress really does not help them and it just leads to immense pressure on their mind or their body itself. So, what are the causes for this stress? How can they be dealt with?

Signs of exam stress problems

There are a lot of signs of exam stress problems among children, but parents and teachers who want to find these problems and control them have to keep a close look out on them. Most of the time, these stress problems just creep up, so it is not really possible to pinpoint when it starts. So, one just has to keep their eyes open to find out when the stress has become a problem.

1. The child starts being really upset or angry.
2. The child has problems sleeping.
3. They complain of frequent headaches, back aches etc.
4. They become really upset over small things.
5. They show a sense of helplessness about things they have always done before.
6. Their concentration levels go down and they become really jumpy.
7. They start complaining a lot and throwing tantrums, blaming other people for the smallest things.
8. They become quite defensive about everything.
9. There is a lack of enthusiasm, even for things they used to like before.
10. Physical deterioration- like loss of appetite, weight loss, frequent fevers.
11. The highest degree of signs of exam stress would be if the child actually gets a panic attack or starts hyperventilating.

Causes for exam stress among children

1. Parental pressure: Most parents do expect a lot from their children. This is certainly not a bad thing, but many a time, it can come across as being push towards the children. A lot of times, parents don’t really put forth their expectations the right way, or in an encouraging way. This can really contribute towards exam related stress problems among children.

2. Pressure at school: Most schools do want exceptional results from their students, so they directly and indirectly put a lot of pressure on the children to perform well. This can be positive, but only if the children are trained to take this pressure the right way.

3. Peer pressure: In a school surrounding, children are always being compared to their peers. Sub- consciously, they are probably comparing themselves to others around them as well. In such a situation, if they don’t perform as well in exams as the others, their self- esteem might suffer a blow. Since exams are supposed to be a quantitative analysis, children think that this is a practical evaluation of how good they are.

4. Competitive nature of exams: Even without the peer pressure, the competitiveness of exams is growing up. The awards that are given to people who do well in standardized tests and other such exams has gone up by leaps and bounds which has also been quite helpful in establishing some amount of connection between the insane amount of exam stress.

Tips for parents
Parents can do a few things to help their children out on the day of the exam :
1. Make sure the child gets a full night’s sleep the night before the exam and make sure they do not cram.
2. Make sure they are well fed on the morning of the exam, but don’t feed them too much!
3. Double check with your child to find out if they have everything they need to write their exams.
4. Plan some post exam activities. If you can’t go on a vacation, at least plan a night out or at least ice cream. This would certainly make the student loosen up and lose the pressure they had gained because of the exam.
We know we have asked you to make sure of a lot of things, but do not fret too much! When you fret, the child would also fret and this is not something we want them to be doing. In case you feel, you are not successful enough in helping your child handle exam stress, consult with an expert in the field.