How to console children after failing examinations


If you are the parent of a child who has failed in the examinations, or hasn’t done well enough, what would you do? How would you support and uplift your child’s spirits to help him pick up the pieces and get back on his feet? Let’s look at some of the things you should do as a parent.

  1. Have an open conversation: It is always difficult for children who have failed in exams to open up and talk to their parents. They feel ashamed and unsure of themselves, which makes them withdrawn or reluctant to speak. Therefore, take the initiative of starting a conversation with your child. However, do not use this opportunity to shame and blame him. Instead, use it to reinforce the value of good education, ask him what you can do to help him, and motivate him to turn the failure into a learning experience.

Bireda and Pillay conducted a study titled, ‘Perceived parent-child communication and wellbeing among Ethiopian adolescents’, and published their findings in the International Journal of Adolescence and Youth (2017). The authors reported that, “Open communication with parents protects children from experiencing school adjustment problems, low self-esteem, depression and substance use.”

  1. Offer your support: Although not all children, especially teens, would admit to it, the fact is that every child looks up to his parents for support, especially while going through a crisis. So, reach out to your child. However, remember that supporting your child doesn’t mean telling her to forget her failure, cheer up and carry on. It means assuring her that you are there to help her in her efforts to identify her shortcomings and trying again. And, that you won’t ever give up on her.
  2. Prevent your child from feeling depressed: Children want to make their parents feel happy. Failing in exams and disappointing their parents fills children with a sense of guilt. Over-reacting to your child’s failure can push him towards developing depression. So, keep your reactions in check. Tell your child that all is not lost, and that with better planning and preparation, he can succeed the next time.
  3. Realign your expectations: Based on their assessment of their children, most parents tell them what they expect from them. However, trying to fulfil parental expectations, which may sometimes be unrealistic, can prove burdensome for a child. If your child has failed in the exams, it is time to reassess what you expect from her in academics. Sit with your child and redraw the goals. This would take off the pressure she may be under and motivate her to work towards the new objectives.
  4. Draw up a plan: There can be a number of reasons behind your child failing in the examination. So, sit with her to analyse her shortcomings and chart the future course of action. Make a detailed plan for her to follow and achieve success; you can also take help from her teachers to do this.

Chohan and Khan conducted a study titled, ‘Impact of Parental Support on the Academic Performance and Self Concept of the Student’. Published in the Journal of Research and Reflections in Education (2010), the study states, “Family support processes enable the child to establish a better academic status and positive self-concept which then contribute to the maturation of his/her personality and career.”

  1. Do not compare: Last, but most important, do not start comparing your child’s result with that of his peers or others around him. This can prove intensely demoralising, especially at the time when your child is trying to cope with the ignominy of failure. It can make him feel isolated and angry. In the long run, it may make him indifferent and careless towards his responsibilities.

Most Indian parents tend to take a lot of interest in their child’s academics. As a result, they are disappointed if their child fails in an exam. However, parents need to remember that it is up to them to prepare their child to face the challenges of life. Failure of their child in an exam is one such opportunity for parents.

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