We go through many tests while we
strive to reach our goals in life. 
School exams are followed by employment tests and career promotion
tests.  In the meanwhile our test for life
still goes on.  It is difficult to be
successful at the tests while living a life with inaccurate objectives.   The thought of failure haunts you night and
day.  No matter how prepared you are your
performance will plummet once the anxiety of “what if I fail” enters
your head. 

For many years, our children have
been taking exams for entering the schools that are generally designated by
adults as their objectives.   They take
courses and lessons in addition to their school studies all these years.  They are constantly made to take preparation
tests.   And as such, June is thought of
as a month of exams rather than the last month of school and the beginning of
summer season.  In this month children
from every age group take exams one after another.  Even some of those who will begin the school
for the first time take their first step into an educational life that they
have started with exams -on account of being chosen to the school by an exam-
and they will finish with exams. 

Stress levels of the kids who will
take exams increase in June.  The same
goes for the parents as well.  In fact
the two exams are related to one another. 
Parents mostly want their children to go to a good high school in order
them to be more successful at the university exams.  To this end, they even take decisions on
their behalf and act like coaches for them to study.  As both sides get more and more stressful,
the trouble in the household mounts correlatively. 

The first step for dealing with all
that stress is to determine your expectations and wishes in line with the
capacity and skills of your child.  If
you set goals without observing such reconciliation and force your child to
reach those goals, then both you and your child will have hard time getting
there and inevitably experience disappointment in the end. 

Exam Anxiety

Exam anxiety does not just apply to
major exams.  For some children each and
every exam is a source of anxiety.  Such
anxiety has nothing to do with his/her studies. 
It is rather a result of the negative thoughts, on the part of the
children, concerning the exam and the belief that it will not go all right. Signs
of anxiety result in a real drop in the examination performance.  Such an anxiety is observed more in children
with the fear of failure and with parents who fuel such fear.  If the child feels that his/her parents
really want him/her to be successful and if he/she has been brought up feeling
this way, then he/she will be prone to think that “his/her parents’ love is
conditional on his success, and they will deny their love should he/she be unsuccessful”.
And such a line of thought increases the anxiety.    Apart from the daily tests, parents tell
their children, prior to the high school and university exams, that “the exam
is not that important, just do whatever you can”, but they also urge them
to study harder and let slip sentences like “everything will be better
once you pass that exam, your life will change for the better” in their
talks.  And then they surprise at their
children’s anxiety and expect them to deal with it. Other than that, lack of self-confidence,
pessimism, previous failures, unrealistic expectations and lack of knowledge
could be listed as the sources of such anxiety. Moreover, not having a plan or
schedule, inability to set goals and negative influence of friends also
increase the anxiety. Negative thoughts are brought about by the anxiety along
with such physiological manifestations as distress, perspiration and
trembling.      In order to reduce the
level of anxiety, it is important to transform such negative thoughts as
“If I fail I’ll be finished, my parents made a lot of sacrifices on my
behalf, I wouldn’t be able to look them in the eye, I’ll be a disgrace if I
fail, what would my friends think of me then” into positive ones. 

It is very important that our
children have a bright future and good education, and that they be socially
active and that they go to good schools. But their lives and health come first
above all else. There will be no test that you cannot pass once you have dealt
with the anxiety, and you trust and believe in each other.  

Prof.
Bengi Semerci, M.D.

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