May is a month with mixed feelings. It is a month of exams and the beginning of summer holidays. Exam stress plays havoc with both physical and mental well – being of kids.
Parents need to understand the difference between encouragement and exerting pressure. Unfortunately, the pervasive culture of marks-paranoia rules our education system. Clinical depression and stress related disorders among children in India are perhaps the most understated phenomena. It is estimated that almost three fourths of school going kids are stressed. Examination failure, learning problems, overall stress in family and overall stress at school are important parameters of stress.
High parental expectations and parental behaviours contribute to school-related stress. The examination system and parents are the ones who are putting the pressure on the child, and that makes them stressful early in life. Stress related disorders like stammering, nightmares, drug abuse and asthma have become quite common. Perhaps I have seen more childhood stress related cases in the last five years of my practise than in the previous ten years. Mostly, teachers and parents have good intentions. But in the end it is not intentions which matter, but outcomes. Work pressure has taken a toll on childhood innocence. Children have become like mini adults. They no longer play the games which children used to play around 20 years back.
Can we change the system? Yes, we can. We as parents need to understand the aim of education. It is not to create cramming parrots who vomit out what they have learnt the previous day. Motive of education is to create good human beings who can generate new ideas and hence contribute to human development.
There is an urgent need to act otherwise we risk losing a generation on which the future of mankind depends.