Don’t endanger our children’s future for the myth of excellence


School board exams are approaching and teachers, and more importantly parents, are under extreme pressure to ensure that their children get good grades.

Every year we read news about the depression of students after exam results of 10th and 12th grades are announced or even before.

As a trainer, when interacting with students, I ask: “What is the biggest fear of your life?” The most common answer is: “Fear of parents and how they respond to our grades. Can we ever meet their expectations?”

I once counseled a parent who was under extreme stress because his child was eating, sleeping and playing well along with undertaking his studies during exam time. The parent’s complaint was that he could not see the stress and fear of the exam on his child’s face!

He said: “My child is not serious. What can I do?”

He brought the child to me for counseling and I realized that the boy had excellent control over exam stress, and that, actually, it was the parent who needed counseling!

It is a well-known fact that stress exerted by parents and sometimes by schools on pupils to perform well in exams, often leads to over expectation, fear, anxiety and finally depression and in extreme cases even to suicide manias in children.

We parents should not see educating the child as a business and their future as a return on our investment. About 90 percent of most successful living human beings did not have excellent academic grades.

If we think about our own schoolmates, we will realize that the most successful in actual life were not those who were the most studious in our class. Backbenchers often have better life skills and are able to survive the challenges of the real world.

Some studies show that 75 percent of current graduates lack employable skills, while they possess academic excellence on paper. We need to focus more on values, behavior, life skills, practical experience and employable skills rather than on getting an A+ in order to be successful in life.

Regardless of our grades, it is our dreams, goals, pain, passion, patience, positivity and perseverance that decide our destiny. Setting life goals as early as possible is important in order to be a self-motivated student.

Parents need to love their children unconditionally, regardless of their grades, obedience and behavior. They need to kiss, hug, embrace and support them, instead of creating pressure, fear, targets and a threatening environment. Let us become forgiving, not forbidding, parents.

Every child is born with unique talents. We need to support and guide our children to explore, nurture and shape the genius inside them, not to destroy them for the lust of a commercialized and mechanized grade system. Words of appreciation and affection work better than blame and authority.

The essential five factors for students preparing for exams are:

1. Good eight hours sleep.

2. Exercise/meditation.

3. A balanced diet and plenty of water.

4. Prayers.

5. Trust in God along with a pleasant family atmosphere and support.

Brain gyms and breathing exercises are also good stress relaxants. Mind mapping is a good scientific tool to organize a child’s memory.

It is important to have a study plan to avoid the burden of study. It is a good approach to study 20 minutes then break for five minutes to increase the focus. To avoid stress and demotivation, never do a post-mortem after each exam. Never expect a specific grade. If you expect 98 percent and if you get 96 percent you will be upset. On other hand when you get 90 percent without any expectations, it is time to celebrate!

Finally, exams are a good opportunity to know yourself better, prepare your best and face it with bliss. Rejoice for whatever grades you get. One thing is for sure, opportunities are like buses; there is always another one coming. Never be disappointed! Regardless of your marks today, you all will have a fruitful life ahead. Dream big! Tomorrow is yours!!

Dr. Abdussalam Omar MD, MSc.

Inspirational Speaker and Life Coach,

King Saud University Riyadh