By Lola Aguilar
Many children experience stress and anxiety before a big test. Whether they face a week-long standardized test or a chapter test for one subject, the situation can be intimidating for many students. At the moment, they are unable to think of anything else and, anxiety overtakes them, complete with rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms and other symptoms. There are several tactics that parents can use to help students overcome testing anxiety.
Encourage Your Child to Take a Break
A short break before and even during the test can relieve a lot of anxiety. If your child has to make many decisions in the morning, such as what to wear and what to eat for breakfast, give
them a break from these small decisions and handle these tasks for them. Sit out their clothing the night before and prepare breakfast early so they aren’t stressing about these issues before they head off to school to take the test.
Encourage your child to take short brain breaks during the test also. If they notice their anxiety rising, they should take a break and go to the bathroom or grab a drink at the water fountain.
If they are not allowed to leave their desks, they can close their eyes and take deep breaths for a couple of minutes. Even a brief five-minute break can greatly reduce the anxiety symptoms and ward off a panic attack.
Give Your Child Opportunities to Move
Movement not only distracts from the negative feelings of anxiety, but it also promotes blood flow to the brain and reduces physical and mental stress. On the morning of a big test, you might turn on a yoga video or simply take part in some easy stretching. If your child is extremely agitated, you can even turn on a cardio exercise video that will allow them to work out some of the excess energy they have.
If intense movement seems overwhelming to your student, you can suggest small movements in a chair. Stretching the arms up into the air and leaning from side to side can often be enough to bring down the negative emotions.
Talk to your child the night before a big test and find out how they are feeling. If they seem anxious, you might go on a walk before bed. This can encourage a positive hormone release prior to sleep, hopefully warding off any nightmares about the upcoming exam.
Help Your Child Discuss the Anxiety
Many children are reluctant to discuss their negative emotions.
They may think everyone expects them to take life with stride.
However, tests can be difficult for anyone of any age. It’s
important to let students know that and encourage them to talk
about their emotions.
Discussing anxiety can be difficult for young ones. They often don’t have the words necessary to describe all of their emotions and the symptoms they are experiencing. It can help if you encourage them to write out how they are feeling and then go over the journal entry with them later. Help them define their feelings and they may feel more comfortable reaching out as they gain an understanding about them.
Provide Opportunities for the Development of Social Skills
Social skills not only teach children how to play with others, but they also include key abilities like learning how to resolve conflicts and solve problems. Many of these essential social
skills can be used to handle other difficult situations—like test anxiety. Also, a child who has a social support system of friends and family will feel more comfortable talking about their negative emotions.
Students should be given unstructured playtime during the school day and outside of school. While organized sports are beneficial to children and gym classes can provide positive experiences, they do not encourage the social skills needed for children to manage their often-unrestrained emotions. While those activities teach children to follow the rules and work hard to achieve goals, they do not encourage children to manage themselves well. The unstructured play forces children to work with others by remaining calm and maintaining a level head in difficult situations—both skills that can help with anxiety attacks.
Make Time for Creativity
Kids need opportunities to express themselves in creative ways. This can provide them with an outlet for all emotions—especially anxiety and stress. Activities that boost the imagination can be both structured and unstructured to benefit emotional intelligence.
Before a big test, you might encourage your child to be creative and make something that expresses how they feel about the upcoming situation. You might offer paints and a canvas or colorful clay as a unique outlet for your student. Discuss how they can create something that represents their testing success. Help them discover manifesting a positive destiny.
Introduce Calming Music and Videos Before a Test
Taking a break can be enhanced with audio or video that promotes a sense of calm—thereby reducing anxiety. Slow music or that without words has been found to alleviate negative stress while encouraging positive emotions. If listening to music isn’t enough of a distraction from the anxiety, a video with relaxing sounds and visuals might do the trick.
Many content creators have been developing ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos. ASMR is a relaxing sensation that can be felt throughout the body and is often called a “brain massage.” It is triggered by calming sounds like whispers, crackles and other soft and soothing noises. These videos may also include visually appealing content like cutting sand or squishing slime.
Utilize Multiple Tactics to Reduce Test Anxiety for Students
Often, the best strategy to reduce test anxiety for students is to use multiple tactics discussed in this article. You can find out what works best for your child and encourage the use of that strategy before, during and after a test to battle negative emotions associated with big exams, standardized tests and other stressful activities