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Troubled times

Helplines across the city are gearing up for the busiest time of the year – the board exams!

From next week onwards, the citys student population is going to get into overdrive. With them besides thei

r parents, and may be family members, there are several other people who too will get into overdrive. These other people comprise of the counsellors at the student helpline centres, where the phones ring almost continuously during the peak season. On an average they get about 300 calls a day! Considering the fact the mid- February to end- March is the time almost all the board and university exams are conducted, there is hardly any surprise that helplines are faced with so many calls. With pressure mounting on them from parents and relatives, students are seeking the help of child welfare groups and NGOs to ward off anxiety.


” What children hate most is alt39 peer comparisonalt39. Do not confuse it with peer pressure. This is when parents keep comparing their child to other children, or cousins or even a sibling,” explains counsellor Chhaya Sheth. She goes on to narrate an incident her colleague went through. ” We got a call from a mother complaining that her daughter is not scoring as well as she used to in the previous years. She was complaining about the dip in her daughters performance,” Sheth narrates. When the counsellor spoke to the girl, after a lot of coaxing, she revealed that her parents ( but mainly her mother) had been comparing her marks to that of her neighbours son. She was so frustrated with her mothers constant dissatisfaction that she completely gave up trying.

The main job of counsellors on the helplines is to defuse the stress and help students open up and vent out their concerns. Sometimes, all the students need is a listening ear. In fact, if a particular student is uncomfortable with a particular counsellor, he or she is encouraged to talk to anyone he or she is comfortable with.

The Central Board of Secondary Education ( CBSE) has started counselling students, who will appear for their board exams. The Maharashtra State Board of Higher and Secondary Education too has added another helpline and has roped in expert doctors to help students. While the general queries will be answered by operators, there is now a system in place to connect students with the appropriate school authority if the query is due to examrelated anxiety or stress.

The state board is also looking into adding more helplines, since the authorities have learnt from past experience that there is a lot of load during the exam times.

While the members of such helplines may prove to be of great help to students, parents should realise that their childrens first go to are them. They should realise the following: œ Students will not do well if they canalt39t cope with stress.

To avoid stress, provide the right kind of motivation, with a great learning environment.

A child needs emotional comforting in addition to great schooling and supplemental tutoring to do well at exams.

Do work hard to help children maintain their confidence, especially if they seem discouraged.

By no means should parents pass on their anxieties onto their children.

Set realistic study goals.

Students need positive reinforncement. Praise your child when he/ she does well. Use statements like ‘well done’and ‘much better’rather than ‘how could you not know that?’or ‘that is not enough.’

Steer clear of pervious failures or results.

Say no to criticism, and yes to encouragement.

Be a sheild the child can fall back on.

Try to gain your childs confidence and discuss problems with her/ him; help find solution.

Send your views and comments to knowledge@ fpj. co. in