Expert Speaks / Stress

Know stress to beat stress: How parents must face the challenge

Know stress to beat stress: How parents must face the challenge


12 Feb, 2016

Is your child unable to retain what he/she has learnt, tends to blank out at times, complains of headache, is not hungry or is always very hungry, feels nausea or faces erratic sleep patterns and tends to prolong lying down on bed? These could be symptoms of stress. Now that they have been identified, they can be dealt with!

So, what exactly is stress? Stress is defined as a body and a biochemical of a person going through a coping mechanism. They are struggling to cope up with a stressful situation which is challenging for the body and the mind.

A certain amount of stress is important for life as it helps us to perform better. It propels a person’s way to deal with a difficult situation. But, you have to learn to manage stress!

Dr. Madhumati Singh, a senior psychologist, tells FairGaze: “It is very important for the parents to notice the child’s stress symptoms when it is building up. The moment it starts building eg it could be avoiding school, unable to wake up on time for school, bunking school, lying in bed for a long time, procrastinating or distraction with games. These are the initial symptoms that the parents need to observe. That’s where a parent’s role comes.”

Typical symptoms of stress:

  • A child is unable to retain what they have learned. They are not able to recall everything and sometimes tend to blank out.
  • Generalised anxiety. For example, questions like what if I don’t pass my exam? What if I don’t understand a particular question? start haunting the child.
  • Erratic sleep pattern. The child feels sleepy at the wrong time of the day and does not get sound sleep. He/she is always thinking of what to study next.
  • Appetite issues. In this case, either the child is not hungry at all or very hungry. These are distracting agents where the child spends time on eating a lot. So, it’s kind of nurturing your stress where you find some sort of succulence in food because you are anxious about exams.
  • Child’s digestion. In this case, the child feels nausea or goes to the loo very often or is constipated. The child may develop a constant headache.

Even as the child struggles to cope up with stress, it is very important that the parents know how to deal with it. They must sit with the child and chart out a timetable or before that may be find out in which subject the child is facing problems. Why is the child not willing to sit with the books? Is it the writing issues, does the child get tired with writing or it could be visibility issue or a hearing issue where the child has some mild ear infection. Or it could a strict teacher! It could be that the child needs 3-4 repetitions to understand a particular topic which doesn’t happen in a typical classroom scenario. So the child feels like a dud. He/she keeps falling back in class before finally giving up.

“This means the parents need to go to school, meet the teachers and find out and ask the teacher to give extra help in library period or in some other free period,” says Dr. Singh.

This is the help we can get from schools. A child can also take tuitions and if the parents are able to, they can also help the child in studies at home.

Another significant thing to keep in mind is the aspiration of a child.

“Not all children are aspiring for As and it is mostly parents who need As more than the child. It is very important for the parents to reorganise their aspirations and be realistic. If the subject is difficult for the child, then ask the child to get Bs or Cs. It’s ok and it can’t be all the subjects. It could be maths or any language subject,” adds Dr. Madhumati.

So, lower your aspirations and once the child is confident and they no more find studies so overwhelming, they will get encouraged to do better. Another doable thing is to chart out after school or weekend timetable where a child gets a fair balance of studies and recreation. It has to be tailor made. Every child is different. A parent has to do that and follow it with gentle reminders. Gentle supervision is needed where the child feels, yes, there is someone else too involved in his/her studies. They should feel that theirs is not a singular painful war against the school system or society and that makes them feel empowered.

This can be the beginning of their end to stress regarding studies!