Handy Tips for Helping Children Overcome Test-Related Anxiousness

Handy Tips for Helping Children Overcome Test-Related Anxiousness

For those who have never experienced test anxiousness, those who claim it may be brushed off for “imagining things” or “making excuses.” After all, it’s normal to be nervous! But those who do experience test stress know that it is very real — sometimes debilitatingly so. There is no one cure-all solution, but there are many ways to manage it.

Introduction to Test Anxiousness

Test-related anxiousness is often correlated with other emotional issues. The bigger the test, the more likely your child may experience stress. It varies by individual and can hit before the test or during.

Symptoms of anxiousness:

  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Occasional nausea
  • Nervous feelings
  • Shortness of breath

These are often accompanied by intense fear of failure, obsessive worrying about the test, low self-esteem, anger, shame, and sadness.

Talk to Your Child

Younger children may not know how to describe what they’re feeling, so this might not be the best approach for them. Older children, however, (especially those taking college placement exams) may be unwilling to talk, for fear of being criticized for being weak. They are often of feeling unsure about their future, comparing themselves to other students who assert that they’ve got it all planned.

Encourage your child to talk about their feelings, then pay attention to them as they do so. When appropriate, respond in a realistic but positive way. If you’re not quite sure what to say, Understood.org has a great response: “We can help be sure you’re prepared for this test. And however you do on it, don’t be worried. There are so many options for you after high school, and we’ll work with you to find the best ones.”

Free Up Their Schedule

Kids of all ages quickly get sucked into a vortex of daily activities: sports practice, extracurriculars, classes, social invitations, and when they’re old enough – part time jobs. There’s only so many hours in the day, and for many kids, this constant busyness can be overwhelming.

The obvious solution is to simplify their list of commitments. However, many teens get stressed about dropping an extracurricular because they’re concerned it might hurt their chances of being accepted into their school of choice. Emphasize to them how balance can relieve stress and actually improve performance in other areas, making a college resume that much more impressive.

Try Aromatherapy

Several studies have linked the use of essential oils with improved test performance and reduced feelings of test-related anxious feelings.

To help the mind for better focus and concentration:

  • Rosemary
  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Basil
  • Cardamom
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon

To relieve stress before or during a test:

  • Lavender
  • Roman chamomile
  • Clary sage
  • Neroli
  • Sweet orange
  • Marjoram
  • Bergamot
  • Frankincense

There are several ways to use essential oils for relief before and during a test. During the test, your child can use a wearable necklace diffuser. Applying the oils to a handkerchief or directly to the skin of the wrist (diluted with a carrier oil) also makes the fragrance accessible as needed.

Encourage Better Study Habits

Not all study methods are created equal, and some work better than others depending on the individual. If note taking is difficult, using a different note taking strategy can help. If reading is difficult, maybe find the required readings in audiobook format instead.

Also encourage your child to ask teachers about the test beforehand so they can create expectations. This makes sure your children won’t have to stress as much over the unknowns. Ask what type of questions will be on the test, how long it will be, and whether it is limited to the unit or comprehensive.

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