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Counseling Services – Jan. 2012

January 1, 2012

How do I Deal with my Child’s Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is an intense form of performance anxiety, which interferes with a person’s ability to concentrate while taking a test. Kids with test anxiety worry about forgetting the material or doing poorly on the test, and they can become stressed to the point of blanking out and losing their concentration and focus. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress, and it can have physical symptoms, as well, such as headaches, nausea, and sweating. These physical symptoms can cause additional stress, lack of appetite, and difficulty breathing. It’s very hard to break this cycle of anxiety, as all the negative thoughts make you feel worse and make it more likely that you won’t do well on the test.

Kids who are perfectionists put themselves under a lot of pressure even if they are excellent students, and they often suffer from test anxiety. Students who haven’t studies but want to do well can also suffer from test anxiety as they feel the pressure to perform well. Parents can help their children by recognizing the signs of anxiety. Kids of all ages might go through panic attacks, crying fits and mood swings, as well as pessimism regarding their chances at success in an exam. To help kids through stressful situations, listen and understand. Help them to manage their time, make sure they eat healthy food and sleep well, and encourage them to share their concerns without focusing or dwelling on them too much. Involved parents can help their kids set realistic goals. Acknowledge the efforts your child makes, and don’t add to the stress by pressuring or expressing disappointment in achievements. Keep a positive attitude, help your child relax, and always offer your reassurance and support.

7 Tips for Reducing Stress from the Test!

  1. Be Positive: “It’s just a test and you are going to do great!” Parents and teachers need to “stay calm” and “be confident” and your student will do the same. Calm, confident parents produce calm, confident kids, and anxious parents produce anxious kids. Teachers and parents need to be careful not to express their stress about the test in front of their kids. Be positive and talk about the benefits of the test rather than complain or voice discontent about the test.
  2. Fun After Test Event: Give the student something to look forward to after the test! Plan a trip to the movies, park, amusement park, a fun dinner, etc.
  3. Rest: For us to be at our best mentally, emotionally, and physically for school, tests, and work, we need 8-10 hours of deep sleep. Even though teens feel the need to be up late at night, studies have shown they perform better when they are getting at least 8 hours of sleep.
  4. Food for Thought: “What we eat effects how we think!” Eat a healthy breakfast full of protein and fruit: eggs, sausage, steak, greek yogurt, protein smoothies, etc. Protein keeps the metabolism going, increasing mental energy, and fruit helps with memory. Protein metabolizes in 4-12 hours keeping mental focus, mood control, and short-term memory at its optimum. Foods with sugar or carbohydrates metabolize in 30 minutes and leave children and adults feeling sluggish, tired, and lacking in mental energy.
  5. Relax: Exercise relaxation techniques, such as slow breathing while imagining a relaxing place like the ocean, prayer, or stretching.
  6. Be Comfortable: Dress comfortably but also bring a sweater or jacket in case the room is cold. Clothes that are too tight or too loose could cause discomfort.
  7. On Time: Being a few minutes early may allow the student to find a comfortable seat and relax before the test. Tardiness or the possibility of being late can get the day started off on the wrong foot. This causes rushing or worrying, and starts the morning with high anxiety on an already stressful day.
Revised and submitted by: Cindy Lerner, Family School Liaison Counsellor (403) 863-2346


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