Overcoming test anxiety is a journey, and it may take some time to find which strategies work best for your child. But with patience, support, and these tips in mind, you can help your child manage their test anxiety and improve their academic performance!
A Guide for Kids on How to Overcome Test Anxiety
Remember when you were facing an upcoming test, you had to deal with those butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, and racing thoughts? That’s test anxiety!
But it’s okay – It’s totally normal to feel stressed and anxious. We’ve all been there!
The pressure to do well and the fear of failure can really get to us. And now, as parents, we see our children go through the same thing. We see these anxious thoughts are actually holding them back from studying effectively and performing their best on test day.
But don’t worry; there are steps you (and your children) can take to overcome test anxiety!
By implementing some strategies, you can help improve their study habits and reduce their stress levels.
In this guide, we’ll chat about some helpful tips and techniques that can help your child conquer test anxiety and perform at their absolute best.
So let’s dive in!
What Does it Mean to Have Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is that feeling of fear or worry that creeps up on you when you have an upcoming test. It’s totally normal to feel a bit nervous before a test, but if it starts to seriously affect your studying and performance, then it’s called test anxiety.
This kind of anxiety can show up in different ways. Some children might get an upset stomach or a racing heart, while others might have negative thoughts and feel unsure about themselves.
Common Causes for Having Testing Anxiety
You might be asking yourself, “Why do I get so anxious before tests?”
Well, there are many reasons for this.
- One of the most common causes is feeling unprepared. If you’re not confident in your knowledge and skills, it’s natural to feel anxious about being tested on them.
- Another reason could be putting too much pressure on yourself. If you constantly feel like you have to get perfect grades, this can create a lot of stress and anxiety when it comes time to take a test.
- Poor time management skills can also lead to test anxiety. If you’re cramming the night before a test, you’re more likely to feel overwhelmed and anxious.
- Many times, as parents, we might unknowingly relay high expectations to our children. This might result in them feeling stressed and anxious too.
Symptoms to Keep an Eye on When it Comes to Test Anxiety
So, you might be wondering what you should look out for in your child to identify test anxiety. Here are some common signs to keep an eye on:
- Physical symptoms: These include headaches, stomach aches, sweating, rapid heartbeat, and feeling nauseous.
- Emotional symptoms: Your child might feel overwhelmed, irritable, or have racing thoughts before a test.
- Behavioral symptoms: Your child might procrastinate, avoid studying, or have a hard time sleeping before a test.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, it’s essential to talk to them about their feelings and find ways to support them.
Helpful Strategies to Help Kids Overcome Test Anxiety
Now that we’ve covered what test anxiety is and what might cause it, let’s talk about some strategies that can help you (or your child) manage these feelings and perform better on tests.
1) Exercise to reduce stress levels
Exercise is a great way to release any built-up tension and stress. It also helps boost mood by releasing endorphins, the “feel good” hormones.
Encourage your child to get some physical activity before studying or taking a test. This can be anything from going for a run to doing yoga, whatever they enjoy and find calming!
2) Practice positive thinking to boost confidence levels
Negative thoughts and self-doubt can increase anxiety levels. Help your child practice positive thinking by challenging any negative thoughts they have about their abilities or the test.
As parents, we can also play a role in this by regularly reminding our children that their worth is not determined by their grades. This will help take the pressure off and allow them to approach tests with a more relaxed mindset.
You could also teach your kids some positive affirmations to repeat before or during a test. This can help them feel more confident and in control.
Here are some of my favorites:
- I am prepared and capable.
- I will do my best, and that’s enough.
- I am more than my test scores.
3) Make Sure to get Enough Sleep
A good night’s sleep is crucial for reducing anxiety levels and helping our brains function at their best.
One of the best ways to support kids and help them manage test anxiety is to make sure they get enough sleep before a test. It’s recommended, according to the Academy of Pediatrics that children between 6-13 years old should get 9-11 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers need 8-10 hours.
Building a strong bedtime routine can help them wind down and get better sleep quality.
4) Eat Healthy Meals to Help with Focus and Concentration
One way to help your child stay focused and concentrated during their test is by making sure they have a nutritious breakfast. Having a good amount of protein and healthy fats can help keep their energy levels stable, help manage blood sugar levels, better focus and prevent any mid-test crashes.
That could include:
- Scrambled eggs
- Homemade oatmeal
- Yogurt and berries
- Whole-grain toast with avocado
Try to avoid sugary cereals or foods high in refined carbs, as these can lead to a spike in energy followed by a crash unless balanced with plenty of protein.
It’s also important to pack healthy snacks for them to munch on during breaks, especially if the test goes on for more than an hour. It can be anything like a mandarin or apple, granola bars, or even small sandwiches.
5) Learn Some Time Management Skills to Plan Ahead for Tests
As mentioned earlier, poor time management can add to test anxiety. But with proper planning and organization, it doesn’t have to be stressful!
Kids aren’t always the best at managing their time, so it’s important to teach them these skills.
So, want to help your child ace those tests? Create a study schedule together, divide the material into smaller parts, and set goals for each study session. It’ll make a big difference! Plus, they won’t have to stress about cramming everything at the last minute.
Tip: Check out this list full of genius time management hacks! It’s designed for parents, but it can easily be adapted to help students too.
Tips For Reducing Last-Minute Test Anxiety
For some students, test anxiety might hit when they’re sitting down to take the actual test. Here are some tips to help reduce those anxious feelings:
- Take deep breaths: This can help calm nerves and slow down racing thoughts.
- Drink water: Staying hydrated is important for our brains to function well. Have your child bring a reusable water bottle with them to sip on during their test.
- Listen to calming music: Music can be a great way to relax and soothe anxiety. Encourage your child to listen to some calm instrumental music while studying or during the test.
- Use positive self-talk: Remind your child of their positive affirmations, and encourage them to replace any negative thoughts with more realistic and positive ones.
- Visualize success: Have your child close their eyes and picture themselves doing well on the test. This can help boost confidence and reduce anxiety.
Test anxiety is something a lot of students go through, but it doesn’t have to get in the way of their academic success. By trying out the strategies and tips we talked about earlier, you can help your child handle their test anxiety and perform their best.
Just a friendly reminder to be patient and supportive with your child. It’s important to encourage open communication about their feelings and concerns.
With proper support and coping techniques, your child can conquer test anxiety and flourish in their academic journey. So, no need to let testing anxiety hold them back!
Give these strategies a try today, and happy studying!
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