Anxious Teenage Student Sitting Examination In School Hall

The idea of having to pass a test can put a lot of stress on kids — and they will likely take hundreds of them throughout their school years.

While a test may be important to track a student’s academic growth, it doesn’t always paint an accurate portrait due to the presence of anxiety. Some kids can score high on all their assignments and know the subject well but still struggle on the test. This is commonly the result of stress, anxiety, and increased pressure that leads to mistakes, reduced focus, and decreased confidence.

This article will explore ways you can help your kids with test anxiety.

Look For the Signs

You cannot help your child with something unless you know about it. While many older kids may hold their anxiety close, younger ones may not even know how to express what it is they are feeling. Knowing what to look for when it comes to test anxiety will enable you to take action as soon as possible.

Signs your kid may have test anxiety may include:

  • Stomachaches or nausea
  • Headaches
  • Negative thoughts or attitude
  • Lack of confidence
  • Increased stress level
  • Anger or aggressive mood
  • Fidgeting
  • Inability to sleep
  • Shortness of breath
  • Racing heartbeat

Keep in mind that test anxiety may look different for everyone.

Maintain Open Communication

Communication with your child should be a two-way street — especially relating to anxiety and stress. Ask them about what it is they are feeling and why they think they are anxious. For instance, is it the act of taking the test? Getting a bad grade? The pressure of completing the test within a certain timeframe?

Once these concerns are out in the open you can begin to find solutions. This is when it is always a good idea to bring in your child’s teacher. These professionals often have tips and tricks that can provide students with relief from anxiety. What’s more, they have solutions that may make test-taking less stressful. But if they don’t know your child is struggling, they cannot tap into these resources.

Finally, if test anxiety is very disruptive to your child, interfering with their quality of life and their ability to get through school healthily, contact your pediatrician. There are professional solutions that may make things a bit easier.

Study and Be Prepared

The more prepared your child is for a test, the greater amount of confidence they will have going into it. Although it may not eliminate test anxiety, it can help to reduce it. Rather than leave this task all on their shoulders, be willing to help them study.

Don’t nag or pressure your child into letting you help, but suggest it — and share how it may benefit them. You can review their work, quiz them, or even create a pre-test to ease their mind. Also discussing ways that they may be able to take better notes or create better study habits may help.

Remember, if your child is stressed and anxious, the last thing you want to do is escalate the situation. Parents often get the brunt of their child’s frustration. So make yourself available to help your child study and be prepared for the test when they need it.

Don’t Emphasize Good Grades

Every child knows that the goal is to get good grades. And they know that you want them to score well on their test. They don’t need you to remind them to do well as that just increases their test anxiety. After all, what if they don’t do well? Will you be disappointed? Will you think less of them? These are the types of thoughts that can stick with kids of all ages as they work their way through a test. As irrational as these thoughts may seem to you, they can feel very real to kids.

Instead of focusing on the grade, emphasize doing their best. And remind them that as long as they give the test their best effort, it doesn’t matter what the grade is — because life is so much bigger than a 3rd-grade spelling test.

Advocare Haddon Pediatric Group is a highly experienced team of pediatricians serving patients from birth through college. They have been an established leader in pediatrics for decades in the Haddon Heights and Mullica Hill areas of New Jersey.