Psychologist: Give children positive energy ahead of SEA exam

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Over 19,000 chil­dren are sit­ting the Sec­ondary En­trance As­sess­ment (SEA) to­day to move on to the next phase of their ed­u­ca­tion and ac­cord­ing to Dr Kati­ja Khan, clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, neu­ropsy­chol­o­gist and lec­tur­er at the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies’ Fac­ul­ty of Med­ical Sci­ences, the way par­ents han­dle this mile­stone will be cru­cial to their child’s de­vel­op­ment

“At this de­vel­op­men­tal stage, chil­dren are still form­ing their iden­ti­ty, their views of their par­ents, their views of their fam­i­ly mem­bers, their friends, their teach­ers—weighs very im­por­tant­ly on their re­gard for them­selves, their per­cep­tion of their selves,” Khan said

This is why she said chil­dren must be ex­posed to be­hav­iour from their par­ents that could lead them to in­ter­pret their worth as be­ing tied to their aca­d­e­m­ic per­for­mance

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Khan, dur­ing the hours lead­ing up to the ex­am, par­ents should en­sure their chil­dren are sur­round­ed by calm and pos­i­tive en­er­gy

“There has been enough study­ing. Now is a time to be rest­ed, chil­dren need a good night’s sleep, they need to be well-nour­ished, well-hy­drat­ed in the lead-up to the ex­am,” she said

She ad­vised par­ents to stick to the plan they would have put in place

“For ex­am­ple, hav­ing their uni­form ready, pen­cil cas­es ready, what time they go­ing to get up, what time you go­ing to leave home. So just work the plan and con­cen­trate on en­sur­ing chil­dren don’t feel more anx­ious and more ner­vous than they al­ready might be,” she said

Once the ex­am is over, Dr Khan said par­ents should take a break with their chil­dren “and re­lax and cel­e­brate.” She said par­ents should cel­e­brate the mile­stone of the child com­plet­ing pri­ma­ry school and tran­si­tion­ing to an­oth­er step in their lives

She al­so warned par­ents against pry­ing at their chil­dren to find out more about the ex­am if they’re not com­fort­able speak­ing about it

“Af­ter the ex­am, there is lit­tle that can be done about the ex­am, so we need to be wary of those con­ver­sa­tions that we have so we don’t end up fu­elling more anx­i­ety. That’s not go­ing to be use­ful to any­one,” she said

“So I think you can be guid­ed by your child’s re­sponse. If they do want to share about the ex­pe­ri­ence, how it was, talk about the dif­fer­ent ques­tions.”

She said par­ents al­so need to be mind­ful of their re­spons­es to their chil­dren when they speak about the ex­am

“We want them to con­tin­ue to think in this lead­up that no mat­ter what the out­come of this ex­am that chil­dren still feel loved and sup­port­ed. Let’s face it, dif­fer­ent chil­dren have dif­fer­ent tal­ents and are go­ing to per­form dif­fer­ent­ly. So chil­dren are go­ing to score across the range of this ex­am so while that is go­ing to vary, what should not vary is whether chil­dren feel loved and sup­port­ed by their teach­ers, par­ents and loved ones around them.”

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