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Parents, students 'should just relax' as exams approach
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Anxious parents wait outside a national college entrance exam venue in Lanzhou, Gansu province, last June. This year's exams start on Saturday.

The national college entrance exams will be held from Saturday to Monday, and students and parents are feeling the pressure.

In March, the Guangdong provincial health education institute polled 1,850 students due to take the exam, and their parents, and found that 90 percent of both said they were feeling so much pressure it was affecting their health conditions.

"The exam is not just about the students, but also the parents," Li Min, a Guangzhou mother whose daughter will sit the exam this weekend, said.

"I have been stressed out for the past year, and as the exam has neared, I have been feeling dizzy and nervous. I get headaches and even lose my appetite," she said.

Li said she gets up at 5 am each day to make breakfast for her daughter, who begins studying as soon as she has eaten.

She said she no longer watches TV in the evening, as her daughter needs quiet.

At about midnight, she goes to bed, after her daughter has finished her day's work.

When she is not looking after her daughter, Li works a full-time job.

"It's no wonder I'm stressed out," she said.

However, she said she is glad the exam has almost arrived, as once it is over, she will be free from the pressure.

Li is not the only mother who has made huge sacrifices for a child about to take the college entrance exam.

A year ago, Zhou Hong quit her job at a bank to dedicate herself to caring for her son, who is about to graduate from high school.

"My son is my only hope, I can't do anything for him in the exam, but I can support him in every other aspect of his life," she said.

Zhou said since leaving work she has had more time to cook healthy meals for her son and to take him to extracurricular classes.

While parents like Li and Zhou are driven by the desire to do the best for their children, experts have said their efforts could be counterproductive.

Hao Hongwei, a psychologist from the Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said: "Both students and parents are under pressure at this time, but if parents become too stressed, some of the pressure they are feeling will be transferred to their children."

Also, the high expectations parents have for their children, can add pressure and affect their performance in the exam, he said.

What parents should be doing right now is helping their children to relax by talking to them and listening to their concerns, Hao said.

(China Daily June 4, 2008)

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