9 Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Test Anxiety

Practical tips parents can apply every day

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 Ehrman, MEd, shares nine ways to help your kids successfully prepare for tests.

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Every day

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.

When studying

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 studying

5. Allow naps after a good 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.

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Every night

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.

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