Meenu Arora has been a Counselling Psychologist with more than 20 years of experience. She is presently working with Sanskriti School, New Delhi as Senior School Counsellor. She is also an official representative of the British Council to introduce UK education in schools. She received “Life Empowerment Award -2018” from Centre for Educational Development and “Innovation in Guidance and Counselling-2018” from ASEAP. Children First got to speak to her on how to handle stress…
1. How should we tackle the pressure from all sides: academic, digitalisation (cyber-bullying, etc.), social (peer pressure, the pressure to be an all-rounder)? How should we achieve that balance?
We are social beings. Having friends is normal. However, it becomes a problem when friends become your yardstick of life. Acceptance by the peer group becomes the most important goal and turns into peer pressure eventually.
This peer pressure can be for attaining high scores, getting into the best university, wearing branded clothes or using a certain language to look cool or behaving in a certain way to be accepted by peers. But remember, if you keep changing yourself to be accepted by the peer group, then you might lose your own identity.
Life is full of choices. It depends on you, what kind of choices you make. When we go to a restaurant, we get a menu showing all kinds of food, but we choose what we want to eat. Life is just like that. You are surrounded by all kinds of people and activities; you need to choose what you want to be!
To be confident about this choice, you should be clear about your centre of life. We all could have a different centre of life- friends, work, studies, sports, family or any other. And our whole life revolves around that centre. Identify your vision and mission of life and make it your centre of life. Choose only those ingredients which are needed for the recipe of success – achieving your vision and mission of life. Weed out unnecessary objectives and activities. You will see that things will get balanced automatically.
Now, the meaning of ‘balance’ is different for different people. You have the power and wisdom to achieve your balance. Be confident of your choices and accept yourself the way you are; gradually people will start respecting you and your uniqueness.
2. There are so many times parents fail to understand us. How do we make the parents understand our point of view?
It is a common problem faced by both- parents and children. Children say that parents do not understand them and parents say that children would not listen. According to me, both of them fail to empathize with each other. If we start empathizing, we will not complain.
Also, if you are able to empathize, then you need to convey it appropriately to the other person. For example, if a parent is refusing the child to go for a late-night party, it becomes a topic for an argument. It turns into a power game of ‘who wins’.
Now, if both parents and children empathize with each other, then it will lead to a solution. If the child empathizes, he/she will understand the parent’s fear of safety and substance abuse. The child can address this fear and can give confidence to the parent. The child can also let the parent talk to his friend’s parent for assurance. Similarly, parents need to understand that it is the need for a growing child.
It is good to have open communication where parents can discuss their apprehensions and guide the child on how to make informed decisions. Both need to trust each other and children also need to give opportunities to parents to trust them.
3. How do we communicate more with parents? Can you give us some tips which could help both of us during this growing phase successfully?
- Empathetic listening
- Don’t reject suggestions and ideas at first go saying they have conventional thinking
- Respect them if you want to be respected
- Do not indulge in the power game of ‘who wins’
- If you show emotional maturity, they will trust you. Give them evidence so that they trust you more.
- Do not play the blame game. Use “I” statements. For example – I understand your worry about……..
4. How do I handle exam stress?
- Replace negative self-talk ( e.g. I know I will forget) with positive self-talk (e.g. I will do my best)
- Solve previous question papers, but without any help. You should have only question paper and blank sheets on your table.
- Try to learn in points or flow charts. For example, if you learn 10 points for an answer then it is fine if you forget 2 points.
- Have practice papers with questions from different chapters.
- Take care of your diet. Do not eat junk food as it makes you lethargic. Have fresh juice.
- Keep your posture right while studying. Do not sit on the bed. Use a table and chair.
- Write difficult formulae or equations on paper and stick it where you study. The more you see it, the better you remember.
- It is ok to take frequent breaks as you stop comprehending well if you force yourself to study long.
- Give your phone to parents to avoid distractions.
- Have daily targets and see at night if you have been able to achieve them rather than simply studying for hours together. Our brain works faster with targets.
- Whenever you feel stressed, go out for a walk or close your eyes and just relax and appreciate yourself for whatever you have done