While there were calls from students in the grip of genuine anxiety ahead of today’s English paper, counsellors rue that a lot of calls are from panicky parents requesting them to convince their children to study at least on the eve of exam day
A day before Thursday’s Higher Secondary Certificate examination, the state board’s helpline numbers were ringing off the hook, with counselors logging 820 calls in the 10 hours since the lines opened.
Counsellors said while nervous students spoke about the stress, parents were making technical enquiries like clarity on examination centers, hall tickets and other details.
While there were calls from stressed out students, some were technical questions like what was to be done if someone lost their hall ticket. Representation pic
Professional counsellors are manning 10 mobile numbers, while education officials are in charge of two landline numbers, where technical queries can also be handled.
While there were calls from stressed out students, some were technical questions like what was to be done if someone lost their hall ticket, was unable to locate the exam centre or did not have clarity about timetables.
But the calls that startled counsellors were those from anxious parents calling the helpline to forcibly put their children on line so that counsellors could make them understand the importance of studying and getting good marks.
“In these cases, the children were quite assured and confident,” said Pawan Gaikwad, a counselor. “But their parents were very tense about their wards’ performance. Such cases had to be handled carefully as children were already annoyed.”
He said one such parent called to complain that their child was not taking the exam seriously. When student came on the line, he said he did not need any guidance and that it was quite embarrassing that his parent had put him in such a situation.
“It was important to first make him comfortable and explain that he need not be stressed because of his parents’ expectations,” said Gaikwad. “At the same time, he needed to be told that it is an important examination to get admission to a course of his choice.”
Other stress-related calls were mostly about fear of forgetting everything at the last moment. Murlidhar More, another counselor, said, most students on day one were worried about the English paper being lengthy. And a lot of fear was about the grammar section.
“They needed to be told that many marks would be allotted to the grammar section and how can they manage to clear it by solving easy questions that they know well,” said More. “These confusions are generally cleared by schools or junior colleges while they prepare children for board examinations.”
The kids are alright
Gaikwad added that the anxiety was also about forgetting whatever they had learned. Other questions were about what if they fail and disappoint their parents.
He also that on most occasions, parents put pressure on the children.
“When parents are scared and tense and do not know what to do in the last minute, they call us and make the child to speak to us,” he said. “They are at their wit’s end. But they do not understand that this is much uncomfortable for children. But specially trained counsellors are attending these calls so they know how to handle such situations without putting extra pressure on children.”
Clinical psychologist Seema Hingorani said such moves by parents will have an adverse effect on the children.
“By going into panic mode, parents will only succeed in instilling a negative belief among children that they are not good enough,” she said. “It also exposes the trust deficit. The child might be completely alright and not tense, but such behavior can confuse and stress the child by adding pressure. If the child really has problems, those signs will be seen.”
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