News on Sunday

Dr Naazim Mohungoo : “Every developing child needs to have time for social life, hobbies, exercise, time to eat and spend time with family”

What type disorders can a student develop due to overworking?
We have to remember that we are dealing with children and adolescents. They do not have the same psychological makeup as an older person, and therefore have very little ability to know what is right and wrong. To them, they have to do this, as it is required of them. There is no child who can say, “Stop, I feel I need to take a psychological break or else I will have a breakdown.” Generally, we know things are wrong when the child decompensates (falls to pieces) out of nowhere. This takes the form of opposition, outright anger and aggression, and for the introverts, depression, anxiety, complete “give up”.

We can also add that children and adolescents will try and find their own way of coping. Adolescents in particular are at risk of substance misuse to either help them relax or to perform better. Children and adolescents can sometimes turn to food, either by over eating or by creating an unhealthy relationship, to try and manage. However, if they are not equipped to cope, very often we can have, in extreme cases, children developing anxiety, depression, ‘breakdowns’.

Children’s self-esteem can also be badly affected, resulting in poor self-image, poor confidence, and are more prone to responding to comments from others. This, in turn, can lead to other issues down the line, let alone the 3rd term and exams that are coming. The self-doubt can also be very difficult to manage, as students feel they are not as good as their peers, as the others get the “well done” comments and they don’t get any recognition for the efforts they put in, unless they are bringing in amazing results.

Some students can either use stress to perform better, while others can completely give up, resulting in other issues down the line.

Dr Naazim Mohungoo

What type of support should parents and family provide?
To get results, a student has to perform. Considering this frame of mind, he or she has to be slightly stressed to be able to produce adrenaline that drives us forward. However, too much adrenaline can lead to more problems otherwise, and too much stress kills off performance. A right balance needs to be reached. Just because Pierre is studying 10 hours a day does not mean that Harry needs also to study 10 hours a day. In fact, both could be getting the same results. It is about what the student is capable of doing.

Every developing child needs to have time for academia, a social life, hobbies and exercise, as well as being able to have time to eat and spend time with family. This makes the child flourish. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy is true. However, Jack could become a sick boy if he does not have “off” time. Always on means always stressed and this can impact on their concentration, sleep, appetite, motivation and energy levels.
Parents and family should know what the child is capable of and let them do what they need to do, while at the same time making sure the student is able to take time off from studies, and also have time to eat and breathe.

Some students can either use stress to perform better, while others can completely give up, resulting in other issues down the line."

Some teachers give tuition to students on exam days (an hour before students sit for the exam). How can this as well as last minute revisions affect some students?
We can never decide what is an absolute right or absolute wrong. Every child is different and copes differently. A child that cannot study on the last day can do as well as a child who needs to do most of their studies on the last day. This information about knowing one’s ability to learn can only be acquired after a period of a few trials. 
There is a feeling that teachers can offer the last minute “answers of questions that will be asked tomorrow,” but attending those sessions can be a reassurance for the children as well. Also, teachers can use this opportunity not to necessarily just impart knowledge, but actually to calm the children’s nerves and reassure them going forward. If you have not done the work prior to the exam, you will not cover a whole syllabus in one day. 
It is worth noting that a child’s results over the past year or two is usually a good indicator of the result they most likely will get in the last exam, as it is a measure of their abilities. 


What should a student do if ever he has a blackout or is feeling anxious and stressed in the exam room? 
Very rarely will someone have a blackout from anxiety or a panic attack. However, the latter two are not pleasant. They are products of anxiety which itself is a product of stress. The best cure to anxiety and stress is oxygen, and appropriate breathing exercises can help calm oneself when going into exams. Also, being able to confidently tell themselves that they have done the work, this is what they have achieved so far and that this exam is no different to others. 

Exams are tailored to each and every ability. Every child that has done some work will get some results appropriate for their abilities. There will be easy, average and hard questions, to be able to show what the student is capable of, and not to demarcate the top from the bottom. At least, the education system is moving away from this.

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