With the school year well underway, students are beginning to take more exams on the material that they have learned. While it is normal to be slightly nervous or anxious before the test begins, many students quickly overcome this and proceed with the exam. However, for some students, the thought of a test brings on anxiety that can have physical and mental ramifications. It is not something that passes after a short time and can impact their performance.
What are the symptoms of test anxiety?
Your child may have a variety of different symptoms depending on the amount of stress or pressure that they feel. Physical symptoms may include headache, accelerated heartbeat, rapid breathing, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, clammy hands, or lightheadedness. The child may feel scared or helpless and may even trigger a panic attack if they are unable to calm themselves. They may feel as though their mind has gone blank and have trouble concentrating on test questions.
How you can help your child feel more confident
Oftentimes children are worried about getting a poor grade, not having studied enough, or not knowing the material. Parents can help to reduce this pressure by supporting children during test preparation and providing positive encouragement. It is not likely that a single test will make or break their entire grade. It is usually the culmination of multiple scores, so avoid putting excess pressure on them to perform well.
- Help them study: When students know that a test is coming up, help them to review materials daily. Breaking it down into smaller chunks over several days can help them to more effectively learn the content. Ensure that they are doing their homework, projects, and assigned readings so they are caught up and practicing what they have learned. Help to quiz them on content and give extra attention to material they are unsure about.
- Promote positive thinking: Remind your child that they have been studying daily and know the material. If they are concerned about failing, help to negate these thoughts by pointing out previously good grades on exams and projects. Encourage them to point out the positive things they have been doing to prepare.
- Practice test-taking skills: Answering the easiest questions first, jotting down facts or figures in the margins or on scrap paper at the start of things they don’t want to forget, and crossing out wrong answers can help reduce anxiety. This allows them to spend more time focusing on questions that may be more difficult while boosting their confidence as they answer questions they immediately know. Eliminating wrong answers can help to narrow down choices and allow them to problem-solve more effectively to pick the correct one.
- Teach calming techniques: Help your child to learn deep breathing exercises or meditation to relax. By calming their body and mind they can improve their focus and promote more positive thinking. This can help to reduce stress and alleviate anxiety symptoms. Make sure they get plenty of sleep and eat a nutritious breakfast the morning of the test so they are feeling at their best.
If your child is struggling to overcome their anxiety, counseling can help them to learn more effective strategies and manage their thoughts. They can work to build their confidence and self-esteem when facing tests and other challenging situations. If ignored, test anxiety can negatively impact their school performance and overall wellbeing. Counseling can help them to better deal with negative thoughts, fears, and symptoms associated with test anxiety.
The professionals at Safe Harbor Christian Counseling are experienced in helping children to enhance their school performance and alleviate stress and anxiety. If you are concerned that your child is not performing as well as they could be, counseling can provide them with the support and guidance they need to excel. Contact Safe Harbor Christian Counseling at 1-800-305-2089 or visit www.safeharbor1.com to learn more about how we can help or to schedule an appointment.