Jayanth will appear for his Std. XII exams in a few days. His father has been diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and stomach and is advised surgery immediately. Jayanth and his parents are shattered. His mother stays with his father in the hospital and Jayanth stays alone at home. He is not able to concentrate on his studies like before. He visits his father everyday, spends a few hours with him and returns home with gloom in his heart.
When he goes to school the next day to collect his hall ticket the Principal does not see the usual enthusiasm in his eyes. Being concerned the Principal asks Jayanth about his welfare. Jayanth hesitates and requests the Principal to exempt him from exams. Jayanth explains the events to the Principal, as he feels comfortable with him. On knowing the background the Principal speaks to Jayanth, highlighting his assets and finally convinces Jayanth to appear for his exams.
Adolescents are faced with many stressors. Illness in parents or self, death of a family member, parent's loss of employment, separation from a close friend, parental divorce are few of the events that can cause stress in a youngster's life. If this happens at a crucial period like in Jayanth's life, the adolescent finds it difficult to handle it alone. Lack of concentration, lack of interest in usual activities, difficulty in sleeping, a feeling of worthlessness and helplessness, withdrawal from challenges are few of the manifestations of stress.
Jayanth, in spite of having prepared for his exams, feels worthless and doubts his ability to write his exams, when faced with his father's illness. However, when he talks to his Principal, who understands his situation, he is encouraged.
Coping with Stress is the seventh Life Skill as recommended by World Health Organisation that should be inculcated by an adolescent. Here Jayanth is stressed out and is about to withdraw. The moment he identifies a compassionate adult he is able to confide in him. Seeking help from a significant adult is one of the ways of coping with stress.
Dr. S. Yamuna is a Chennai based consultant paediatrician and adolescent physician.
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