5 ways parents can prepare themselves for SEA results
The results of the 2018 Secondary Entrance Assessment (SEA) will be released on Wednesday and students are anxiously awaiting to see how well they performed as well as which secondary school they'll be attending for the next five to seven years.
It's understandable that parents are also a bundle of nerves just before results come. However, the situation can easily go from tense to unhealthy to even abusive when parents place unnecessary pressure on their child to pass for a "prestige school". Many children cannot cope with such pressures and, in some extreme cases, has lead to self-harm.
Loop sat down with clinical psychologist Dr. Dianne Douglas of Douglas and Associates who shared tips and guidelines for parents on how they can prepare themselves for SEA Day. Recognising that the day of SEA results can be just as intense as the day of exams, she has also shared advice on how parents can manage their own expectations and negative projections on the child this Wednesday.
Here are five ways parents can do this:
1. Use a loved one, friend, work colleague as a soundboard for your anxiety
If you have a partner, sibling, coworker or anyone you can trust to express your emotions with, do so. Avoid sharing said stress in front of the child. Children absorb positive as well as negative energy very easily so it's important to create a consistently positive space for them.
“Your child must know that they have value, so it's important to say to them: "No matter what the results, YOU are precious to us and we’ll take it from there; all you were required to do was do your best."
Reassure your child of this in the days leading up to and on the day of results.
2. Do not threaten your child/withhold affection if they don't perform as expected
Dr. Douglas advises against threatening negative action with one's child, saying it does more damage than good. Citing parents who have threatened to not pick up their children from school if they don't do well (or in some cases, physical violence), Douglas says children need as much support as possible from their parents and guardian on that day.
"This sends the message 'If you don't do well you won't have me as a caring parent anymore'", she said. "That must stop. We don’t need any threats to a child’s well-being on the day of the results."
3. Pay attention to your non-verbal cues as much as your verbals
According to Dr. Douglas, “Seventy to ninety percent of our communication is nonverbal, so your nonverbals must not indicate disappointment, devaluing, comparison, or anxiety.
Parents should maintain a calm, soothing presence for their children at all times,” she strongly urged.
Do not move coldly with them or behave as if it's a crisis. Remember that’s not the last exam in their lives, they must know from an early stage how to constructively bounce back from setbacks.
4. There is a healthy way to positively acknowledge disappointment
If the results are disappointing or less than what was expected, you CAN acknowledge that, Dr. Douglas says. There is a way to address it while still displaying positive reinforcement. “Oh gosh, sweetheart, I know you’re disappointed but don’t worry," is one example.
Using notable figures and their initial shortcomings before success is also a great tactic, she says. “'Remember ___? Look at how well they’re doing now.' Parents can prep themselves and their child by creating a short list of people who are hugely successful today."
Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Oprah, J.K. Rowling, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and even Dr. Seuss are all great examples parents can use to drive home this point. Of course, it helps if the individual(s) are those who your child looks up to. Doing so not only encourages them to pick themselves back up again but also greatly helps them learn how to cope with disappointments and setbacks.
“Ultimately it shows them that the school that they go to does not determine the course of your life. It must be something the parent themselves believe in in order to convey; children know when you’re lying.”
5. Parents of the child who got into the school of their choice should avoid being too arrogant
Of course, there's reason to celebrate when your child is successful in exams and passes for the school of their choice. However, Dr. Douglas says there's a fine line between pride and arrogance.
"That parent should not become arrogant and use their child’s success to put down another child, especially if it's a child in your own home," she explains happens more often than not.
"If an older sibling did not do as well and there is a younger sibling who did better you shouldn't lambaste the [older] child with that over and over again."
Having spoken with adults who have childhood memories of collecting SEA results, Douglas said they recalled memories of humiliation, rejection, and being treated as less than in their household because they didn’t do as well as another sibling.
“One person recalled her grandmother waking her up at night to give her licks because her grandmother remembered her not doing well in exams. We don’t want this kind of abuse being perpetuated on the day of results. Whatever happens, celebrate. Celebrate with your child. Even if a decision is made to repeat, there’s nothing wrong with that."
Douglas and Associates offers a range of psychological and counselling services including child, adolescent, and family therapy. If you think you and your family require counselling, visit Douglas and Associates online or call 662-0155.
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