Mindful of Anxiety during Exams

Mindful of Anxiety during Exams

In the Caribbean island of Trinidad and Tobago, thousands of children ages ten to eleven years sit an entrance exam called the Secondary Entrance Assessment (S.E.A) examination, similar to SATs in primary school at year six, in the UK.  This examination acts as a filter to place children into secondary schools according to their grades. This piece reflects on the challenges children may face regarding the demands associated to exams. This blog can also reflect the psychological anxieties our children face in UK now when it comes to GCSE’s and A-Level stress. Dr Verasammy reflects on some of the anxiety process to help us understand what happens to children and young people. Her reflections focus on S.E.A assessment, but can be used for any exams children experience.

It could be argued that both parents and children alike are quite anxious at this time, due to the uncertainty of the secondary school their child will attend.  However, Dr Verasammy has found that most times this fear and uncertainty is rooted in parental anxiety that is displaced onto the child.  Such displacement of anxiety is transferred to the child causing him or her in turn to develop fear, worry and overthinking of what school they will attend.  Dr Verasammy suggests that this may be due to an inter-generational, cultural phenomenon whereby anxiety around this examination was transmitted from generation to generation compounded by social, economic and political factors.

Even so, Dr Verasammy urges parents to be more mindful of where their anxiety is coming from concerning the S.E.A exams.  For instance, is it due to the cultural misbelief that their child will only be successful if they attend a so-called prestigious school? Or perhaps, it may be rooted to their own past anxious feelings of writing the S.E.A exams many years ago.  Once parents are able to identify where the anxiety is rooted, they can then learn how to cope with the anxiety and support their children’s anxiety with empathy, validation and acknowledgement for trying their best at this stressful time.

Below is a clip of Dr Verasammy reflecting on these issues.

By Dr Krystal-Jane Verasammy

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