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Expert Ways To Help Your Child With Test Anxiety

Picture this: It’s Monday morning and your child has an important math test today. 

You have been helping your child prepare for the test all weekend and you have both gone over the study material multiple times. 

You had a conversation with your child before bed last night and your child seemed happy, well-prepared and confident about acing the test.  

But right before it is time to leave for school, your child suddenly complains about feeling lightheaded, nauseous, scared, breathless and refuses to appear for the test. 

Does the situation we have described above sound familiar to you? Have you encountered this baffling situation more than once?  

If yes, we know that as a parent experiencing something like this can leave you feeling confused, helpless and lost. 

Unfortunately, this is a very common occurrence in students and is known as “Test Anxiety.” 

If you suspect your child suffers from test anxiety, don’t worry, we got you covered! 

We promise you that by the end of this article, you will learn in great detail about this form of anxiety. 

In this article, we will dive deep into what test anxiety actually is and what can be done to help your child who is currently facing this situation. 

What Exactly Is Test Anxiety? 

By definition, test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety.  

It is fairly natural to feel a certain degree of nervousness before a class test or a major examination and in some cases, it can help a student perform better. 

Most kids manage to calm the nervousness effectively and complete their test. 

However, test anxiety is the exact opposite of this.  

Having test anxiety can make your child’s mind go blank or cause them to “freeze up” before an important test.  

The anxiety in turn impairs their abilities and causes them to perform poorly.  

The fact is, test anxiety can affect anybody ranging from a preschooler to a Ph.D. student. 

As a parent, the first thing you need to understand is that your kid will have to go through multiple tests, assessments and examinations throughout their academic life. 

Recognizing the symptoms of test anxiety and not simply labeling it as excuses that your child is making to avoid the test is the first and foremost step to combating test anxiety. 

Read on to find out more about how test anxiety can present itself in your child. 

Test Anxiety Statistics And Facts 

  • Test anxiety is an extremely well-known form of anxiety that presents itself in approximately 10% to 40% of students. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, test anxiety is not limited to just young kids. 
  • According to the Anxiety And Depression Association of America (ADAA), a whopping 18% of adult test-takers experience moderate to severe test anxiety. 
  • Research shows that only a third of the people affected with this condition seek appropriate treatment for it. 
  • If an individual suffering from anxiety during childhood was left untreated, he/she could grow up to develop test anxiety.  
  • Approximately 25% of those battling this form of anxiety are 13 – 18-year olds.  
  • An average student takes approximately 112 tests in their entire academic life.  
  • Test anxiety is on the rise because standardized testing has become more common and competitive over the years. 
  • Test anxiety can affect different students in different ways. 

How To Identify Test Anxiety? 

The symptoms of test anxiety can present itself in three ways – Physical, Cognitive and Emotional/Psychological. 

For some children, the symptoms may only present itself in one of the three ways. 

In more serious cases, a child can experience all three kinds of symptoms. 

For parents, identifying test anxiety in its initial stages can benefit your child greatly. 

PHYSICAL SYMPTOMS: 

  • Feeling lightheaded 
  • Nausea 
  • Sweating profusely 
  • Stomach pain and stomach disturbances 
  • Shortness of breath 
  • Rapid heartbeat 

EMOTIONAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL SYMPTOMS: 

  • Extreme Fear 
  • Feelings of sudden helplessness 
  • Feelings of inadequacy 
  • Debilitating stress 
  • Sudden anger and irritability 

COGNITIVE SYMPTOMS: 

  • Negative thought pattern 
  • Feeling anxious or restless 
  • Finding it difficult to focus 
  • Impaired Speech 
  • Jumbled thoughts and forgetfulness 
  • Comparing yourself to others 

It is important to understand that if you let your child’s test anxiety go unnoticed or do not take it seriously initially, it can lead to long term problems. 

Mild test anxiety can also rapidly turn into something bigger eventually like a full-blown panic attack or a meltdown. 

Image by Helmut H. Kroiss from Pixabay

Expert Advice And 5 Proven Strategies To Help Your Child Deal With Test Anxiety 

For parents, it may be easier to just believe that your child is not well-prepared for the test or they are simply throwing a tantrum. 

This is often not the case in children suffering from anxiety. 

Your child probably has a constant voice in their minds that is telling them “you are not going to perform well on the test” or “No matter how well-prepared you are, you’re going to fail.” 

Your child lives in the constant fear of performing poorly on class tests and getting judged by the people around them. 

The good news for all the parents reading this is, there are certain steps you can take to help your child cope with test anxiety. 

Every child processes test anxiety differently but by incorporating these 5 steps, you and your loved one can gradually figure out what triggers their anxiety and battle it successfully.  

1)  Engage In An Honest Conversation With Your Child 

There is a very high chance that your child finds it extremely difficult to open up to you about their test anxiety. 

Children often fear that their parents will not believe them or will judge them for experiencing these anxious thoughts before a test. 

Plenty of young kids as well as teens find it hard to describe what they are feeling in words. 

As a parent, it is your responsibility to sit with your child and ask them the right questions. 

Your child may often not understand what is happening to them and may find anxiety overwhelming.  

Having an honest chat with your child will help you identify precisely what they are struggling with and you can offer the right strategies to deal with the problem at hand. 

Once your child realizes that you are on their side, it will help strengthen the trust between both of you and eventually, your young one will open up to you. 

If you get anxious or angry during the conversation, it can make your child’s anxiety worse and have a negative impact on your relationship with them.  

You need to keep your tone calm, neutral, and relaxed while you are engaging in this conversation with your child. 

2) Encourage A Positive Attitude And Remind Your Child Of Their Past Successes 

As a parent, emphasizing on the fact that you will always love and respect them no matter what their scores are is a great place to start. 

Always encourage your child to do their best when it comes to tests but make it crystal clear that their grades on tests do not define their future. 

Teach your child to have a positive outlook towards life, even when faced with failure.  

Appreciate them for successfully completing tasks – both academic and non-academic, regardless of how small the task is. 

Praising your child for doing things properly can serve as a great positive reinforcement in general.  

We often fail to realize this but our children put constant pressure on themselves, even if you as a parent don’t. 

They feel this perpetual need to do well on their tests in order to fit in and avoid getting viewed negatively by their teachers and peers. 

When faced with test anxiety, it may be difficult for your child to remember all the past instances where they believed they were going to fail but ended up doing well. 

Reminding them of their past academic and non-academic successes can help ease your child’s anxiety considerably. 

3) Study With Your Child 

Test anxiety can make studying a really overwhelming task for students. 

Being there with your child and helping them study effectively can work wonders on your child’s mental health. 

Start by discussing what your child finds difficult and confusing. Chances are, your child dislikes one particular subject because they find it tough to understand. 

If your child finds math difficult, you can help them by making worksheets. 

If your child finds history difficult to memorize, help them out by providing visual aids and flashcards to make the memorization process easier. 

Always set small milestones and whenever your child achieves them, make sure you appreciate their effort and celebrate their success by rewarding them. 

Teach your child to organize their study materials. When all the study materials are well-organized and in place, it promotes effective studying. 

You can find practice tests online or even devise your own practice test involving probable questions, followed by helping your kids answer these questions.  

This will help your child gain mastery over the subject matter and they will feel in control of the situation.  

This in turn lowers the chance of having a panic attack or anxious thoughts on the day of the test. 

4) Teach Them Calming Strategies  

Teaching your child strategies that can help them relax when faced with test anxiety is crucial. 

Several studies have found that calming music can soothe an anxious mind. 

Playing peaceful sounds like the light, rhythmic pattering of the rain or soft waves crashing while your child is studying can reduce tension in the body and boost concentration. 

Practicing the right breathing techniques can also help children with test anxiety. These techniques can be used while your child is studying at home and also during the test when they can feel their mind racing. 

Taking deep breaths can help your child stay focused during the examination.  

Visualization is another easy and great way to tackle test anxiety and should be practiced frequently at home and during the test. 

Example – Whenever your child feels anxious, ask them to think about a place, a scent or a memory that makes them happy. 

When they think about something that makes them happy, it automatically promotes a sense of relaxation in the body and mind.  

Practice visualization techniques with your child at home repeatedly so that it comes to them easily during the test. 

Lastly, teach your child a powerful positive mantra or affirmation that they can use whenever they are feeling anxious or overwhelmed during a test. 

Example – “I am smart and I have prepared well for this test. My mind is calm and I know I can complete this test with ease. I got this.” 

5) Teach Your Child To Handle Failure 

The fact is, test anxiety will deter some children from acing a test no matter how well-prepared or well-rested they are. 

Unfortunately, studying hard for a test does not guarantee success every time. 

A valuable lesson that you can give your child is how to handle failure in life.  

If anxiety causes your child to perform poorly on a test, use this opportunity to tell them that it is okay and your love for them is not dependent on their scores.  

Inculcate a ‘Never Give Up’ attitude in your children. 

When faced with a setback or failure, the first thing to do is to offer support to your child.  

After that, go over the situation with them and come up with an action plan together to make sure they succeed in their next attempt.  

In conclusion, we agree that test anxiety is difficult and overwhelming for both you and your child.  

If your child has very severe test anxiety, do not hesitate to seek professional help. 

Plenty of schools have school counselors who are trained to effectively tackle a situation like this. Encourage your child to speak to them.  

The quicker you address this issue, the faster your child will be able to tackle test anxiety and build self-confidence over time. 

Do not lose hope, together you and your child can overcome this! 

Featured Image Source : Image by feelgoodjunkie from Pixabay

Get your free copy of the Ebook: “Ultimate techniques to get rid of Aniety instantly!”

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Please note that these techniques are not intended to replace the professional care of mental health practitioners. Please see your doctor if you believe you might be suffering with anxiety.

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