Examination fever hits not just students but parents too. While institutions with dedicated counsellors offer the service to students round the year, some schools have special sessions to address parents before the onset of examinations. Private counsellors say there are more parents of children taking Board exams who visit them this time of the year.

Queries to helpline numbers range from parents laying too much of emphasis on marks to sometimes from teachers who put undue pressure to perform well or to leave the school.

“Anxiety and fear of failure are the biggest enemies of exams, which even parents have. Some have unrealistic expectations about their children,” says Sangeetha Madhu, clinical psychologist and director of Chennai Institute for Learning and Development. Physical symptoms of stress include vomiting and headache before an exam.

Awareness of seeking emotional support or advice has improved over the years, say psychologists. Some schools in rural areas have invited counsellors and psychologists to talk to students. “Students are told how to make optimum utilisation of the time left for the examination. We also tell them to meditate to improve their concentration. We also talk about self-affirmation as it will boost confidence and reduce fear,” says D. Sherin, founder, Velicham. The Velicham helpline number is 9500162127.

According to school counsellors, distraction is one main reason that stresses students before examinations. “It could be because of television, Internet or wrong company. For students from economically weaker background, support and guidance is crucial at this point in time,” says B. Devakumar, student counsellor, St. George's Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School.

Counsellors and psychologists say a child should confide in an adult – it could be a parent or teacher. Staying awake late hours just before exams could stress out the student. Parents should help children to be more relaxed, which will help them focus better and improve performance. Organisations such as CBSE and Chennai-based NGO Sneha are yet to open their helpline numbers, but say like every year they would have a dedicated line.

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