08/05/2017 08:21 BST | Updated 08/05/2017 08:21 BST

Exam Anxiety - A Secondary Effect Of The Current Schooling System?


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The Neuro Linguistic Programming NLP and Hypnotherapy combo is often used very successfully at terminating exam anxiety and nerves for good. [Lashkarian & Sayadia 2015: 510-516 ] Although many practitioners might get your child to relax and feel confident and happy about the upcoming exams, my approach and point of view as an NLP practitioner and, most importantly, as a parent is very different. In fact, it is quite the opposite! And the reason is because those exam nerves might be caused by the legitimate fear of not being prepared well enough. In this scenario, having a professional therapist getting them to visualise stepping into a golden square feeling strong, feeling confident, feeling happy, feeling relaxed and joyful, bursting with unshakable confidence is a great mistake.


What we currently find is that our schooling system leaves the sense of empowerment outside the pupils' reach. The teacher, the parent, or the tutor, is the guardian of certainty and the child is left with the doubt. The teacher tells the children when they are done and whether they got the answer right. The teacher asks the children to read their book out loud to prove that they've read it at home. Inadvertently what we install in our children's psyche is a willingness to please the figure of authority. [Bandler 2017:41] The exam nerves are only a secondary effect of placing the power elsewhere instead within the child. The question we need to ask ourselves is:


Our children associate their sense of fun and achievement with the pleasing the teacher by the shortest route. We need them to feel the fun in a self-initiated problem-solving strategy. [Bandler 2017:45] I don't know about you, but I'd like my daughter A. to have a good sense of how prepared she is and B. to be able to turn her frustration at being stuck or not prepared enough for a subject into curiosity and desire to find a way out. And actually, I would absolutely want for my daughter to keep this strategy for life: the ability to objectively assess her current situation followed by a spark of inner curiosity and desire to propel her forward.

Of course, I can almost hear your thoughts at this point saying "but if we were to give the answers to my children, they would probably just turn the page and copy the answer. They will never learn anything. If we never listened to them reading out loud how we would know they read anything at all?" And you were too right of course because, in the current scheme of things, the child's focus isn't in getting the right answer; the focus is in getting over the pain! The issue is not that the student is looking for the prize through a minimum effort. They want please the teacher rather than themselves. [Bandler 2017:45] That's what they've been trained to do.

Teaching a child to add 5 and 7 and get the answer 12 is great. The issue is that there is a countless number of numbers! Teaching them every single combination is incredibly lucrative and pretty pointless when the authority figure leaves the building. We need to implement a learning strategy so that when seeing those numbers the children want to know the answer. The fun needs to be equating with feeling clever and smart. This will fire the interest in building those charts in their heads. [Bandler 2017:47]

They will know that having a chart helps them get the answer faster. And guess what: the faster they get the answer, the more fun it is!

Why bothering to learn how to spell a word? Because it just feels great doing the right thing! If your child gets 10 words right today, the next time they will want to learn more new words. Because it is fun! And we all love to feel good and have fun.

Building in the desire to find the right answers for the pleasure they get is a much stronger foundation for their future. Let them grade their own mock tests so they know exactly how they're doing. Retaking the same test from time to time so they see how many more answers they got right empowers them. When they've completed the test entirely they will feel the fun and the satisfaction of their own result. [Toffler 1970:52]


Dr Bander R (2010) Make your life great. London: Harper Element

Dr Bandler R & Benson K (2016) Teaching Excellence: the definite guide to NLP for teaching and learning. USA: Bandler Benson Publications

Lashkarian A, Sayadian S (2015) - The Effect of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) Techniques on Young EFL Learners' Motivation, Learning Improvement, and on Teacher's Success. Procedia: Social and Behavioural Sciences 199 (3) 510-516

Toffler A (1970) Future Stock. USA: Bantam Books