herald

Thursday 8 December 2016

Why should we treat our exam children with kid gloves?

Mum helps sons study
Mum helps sons study

When did parents start doing their children's school exams?

Alright, you don't quite do the exams, but you'd nearly rather do them than deal with your kids' exam stress the way the experts suggest.

"Can I drive you here, can I drive you there, do you need a grind?" begins the video in the Survival Guide for Parents on schooldays.ie.

Somewhere between your frantic calls to shady characters peddling grinds and your trips to all those places your child wants to go, you're meant to make his favourite dinner. And don't forget his favourite snacks and his "special cereal."

Holy God, you'd think the child was going through chemotherapy, not an exam. There you are, starting to lose it when you've got to radiate calm and confidence.

That doesn't mean screaming at them: "I've just spent €35 on a grind, you should know something by now!" Say something like that you'll wreck their lives.

"You are their backbone right now", says Schooldays.ie "It is your job as a parent to renew your teenager's self-esteem and their self-belief."

negativity

What if you have a job already? Single parents are meant to be able to work full-time once their youngest child turns seven so I don't fancy anyone's chances of getting parental leave to look after a child of 17.

Even if your job doesn't get in the way of your parenting, there's your other kids, your relationship, your financial woes, your issues.

But you can't be radiating negativity, now can you?

I don't know about that. I'm wondering if it's so bad to just be yourself when your kid is doing exams. I'm wondering if suggesting that parents go through the exam experience as if it were a major life challenge is just adding to kids' stress.

You can hardly tell a child it doesn't matter if he fails when you're acting like he's going in for life-saving surgery which might or mightn't work. Mightn't it be an idea to just be normal when your kid is doing exams?

What about replacing some of the "can I drive you here?" with "would you ever take out the bins?" or "will you give that dog a walk?"

I don't think we can bang on about there being more to life and having a bit of perspective and then treat Leaving Cert students as if they're on their last night in prison before facing the hangman. Cook them their favourite dinner by all means - like they get on Death Row. But make sure you ask them to lay the table.

- victoria white

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