9 Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Test Anxiety

Practical tips parents can apply every day
stressed child taking test

Do tests make your teen break out in a cold sweat? Does your child have difficulty settling down to study for an exam? Here, wellness health educator Jane Pernotto Ehrman, MEd, RCHES, ACHT, shares nine ways to help your kids successfully prepare for tests.

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Daily tips for reducing test anxiety

To get your child ready well before test day, here are some things you can do regularly. 

1. Focus on the positive.

Start noticing the many things your child is already doing well — and tell them. Constant reminders about the consequences of a poor test score on their grades or success aren’t useful.

2. Reinforce healthy habits.

Encourage good nutrition and sleep habits on a daily basis. Don’t reserve them for the day before a test.

Tips for studying

Ehrman recommends the following strategies when test day is fast approaching. 

3. Say “no” to multi-tasking.

Help your child focus by minimizing distractions. Turn off music, TV and other devices during study sessions.

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4. Help kids envision success.

Like pro athletes prep for a game, kids can mentally rehearse taking a test with confidence and calm, answering questions well.

After study sessions are over

Once your child wraps up a study session, encourage them to step away from their books and take a nice break to recharge. The following activities are good to keep in mind.

5. Allow naps after a good study session.

Let kids who are tired take a nap after hitting the books. Sleep helps lock information into the memory.

6. Or send kids outside for fun and fresh air.

Let kids with energy shoot hoops or jump on a skateboard. Exercise and play relax body, mind and spirit before exams.

Things to keep in mind at bedtime

Rest and relaxation are critical for test day success. Ehrman suggests making them both a priority especially on the nights leading up to test day.

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7. Kiss phones goodnight.

One hour before bed, dock and recharge phones, tablets, computers and other electronic devices outside the bedroom. (If they’re available, kids will use them.)

8. Help kids relax and recharge.

Relaxation practices can help kids focus. Meditation, guided imagery and relaxing each part of the body (starting at the feet and ending at the top of the head) can improve performance and bring a sense of calm. Schools are even teaching kids to meditate, with positive results!

On test day

9. Remind kids to breathe deeply — and often.

High stress and anxiety trigger shallow breathing and breath-holding. This robs the brain of oxygen, hampering memory recall, focus and concentration at test time. It’s why kids can forget information they know.

Keep these strategies in mind, and you can help your child ace their next big test.

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