Dealing with anxiety during the MBA journey of your children

If you use these insights, you will not only become a catalyst for your children’s career growth, but for your own mental health and well-being as well.

Post the pandemic outbreak, the education system has undergone a tectonic shift and learning from home has become a new normal.

By Dr Anjali Joshi

‘My son Anish is pursuing a full time MBA program. He has not yet set foot in the campus since his admission. Classes are happening online. Management education is application driven. I cannot help but worry how online learning will fill up this void? How will he smarten himself without face-to-face communication and peer-to-peer learning? What if he remains unfit in the corporate world owing to the lack of his behavioural skills?’ Anish’s father is apprehensive about Anish’s career.

‘I also worry about Disha. She is pursuing the first year of her MBA. I witness her hassles. There are back-to-back online classes, multiple assignments, and endless submissions! She is stressed out all the time, not getting enough rest and looks very fatigued! She used to be full of beans earlier. But online classes have changed her persona completely. I am afraid that she may get burned out!’ Disha’s mother is anxious about her mental health.

Do you resonate with the woes and worries of Anish and Disha’s parents? If your children have started or are in the middle of an MBA course, you will surely do! Like them, you have the same concerns for their professional and personal well-being. But the outbreak of COVID-19 and its rapid spread has upset your applecart. As the pandemic drags on, you no longer want to see its negative impact on the future of your children. There are many parents who are in the same boat as you. A sudden transition to online learning is one of their major pain-points.

Post the pandemic outbreak, the education system has undergone a tectonic shift and learning from home has become a new normal. If online learning is the way forward, how will you deal with anxiety about your children’s careers? Firstly, accept the fact that the mainstream status of online learning will remain dominant in education in both the present and the near future. This is called ‘reality testing.’ Psychologists often use it to distinguish our perception from the external world. Once you pass reality testing, you can facilitate corrective conclusions about online learning. Psychologists use a tool called ‘Cognitive restructuring’ to change rigid ideas. Do not get fixated on the beliefs if they do not help you. Challenge them and adapt thoughts that will pave the way for constrictive behaviour. By using the following insights, you can help your children in the process.

  • Create a positive experience- Your children may be currently focusing only on the negative aspects of online learning. Reality testing will help them view its positive aspects such as locational convenience, flexibility, ease of accessibility etc. You can motivate them to take a rational view of the current challenge. Prevent them from drawing skewed judgements about their own performance. For example, Disha’s mother may discover that a critical factor leading to Disha’s burnout is not online learning, but a lack of time management. She can help Disha prioritise work by using an urgent and important matrix. She can also lend a hand to Disha in setting a permissible threshold to work under stress. Disha will realize that learning from home opens the door to improve her multitasking ability and a virtual environment is more conducive to learn multitasking than the physical environment. By converting perceived negative aspects of online learning into positive experiences, Disha can raise a bar of her performance.
  • Build virtual competence- Since remote working is the new reality, building virtual competence is the need of the hour. If Anish’s father can inspire Anish to capitalize on online learning, several skill-building opportunities will come into his sight. He will make every effort to become an active learner. He will be a driving force in collaborative work and enhance his leadership skills. He will make the best use of virtual platforms to sharpen his networking skills. If Anish follows this, it will not take him much time to become corporate ready and relevant.
  • Escalate change tolerance- In today’s businesses, especially in a post COVID-19 environment, high change tolerance is the most critical competency required for managers. High change tolerance entails embracing the change positively and viewing it as an opportunity rather than a threat. If Anish and Disha’s parents help their children develop high change tolerance in themselves, they will become very much adaptable to rapidly changing business environments and will blossom into new persona.

If you use these insights, you will not only become a catalyst for your children’s career growth, but for your own mental health and well-being as well.

(The author is Counselling Psychologist and Professor & Associate Dean- HR, S.P. Mandali’s Prin. L.N. Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research (WeSchool), Mumbai. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express Online.)

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