While you may not believe it, as a parent, your child listens to you. Your words and actions can have a big impact on your child. You have the power to ease test anxiety or add to it. These tips will help relieve your child’s test anxiety, rather than make it worse.
Talk to Your Child
If your child seems withdrawn, irritable, or not like their usual selves, they may be suffering from stress. Talk to your child about what is bothering them. It could be a relationship, feeling overwhelmed or behind in school, or even feeling stressed about an upcoming test. The opportunity to talk about what is causing anxiety can help relieve it. Try not to offer advice or brush it off like it is nothing. Phrases like “oh, you’re so smart, you always do great” or “don’t worry so much,” may seem harmless, but they can actually add to anxiety. Instead, offer phrases that show you are listening and care about their feelings. “I understand” or “that must be very challenging” can offer more comfort. If you want to offer praise, praise your child’s efforts instead of their natural abilities. “I see you have studied a lot” or “you have been working really hard,” are phrases that help build your child’s confidence in their preparation.
Write it Out
When your child would prefer not to talk to you, encourage them to write out their worries. Studies have shown that the simple act of writing down fears about a test can help relive them. Getting fears onto paper gets them out of your head. Consider giving your child a journal so that they can write out their anxieties whenever they need to.
Parents can experience anxiety around major exams too. Your anxiety may be feeding into your child’s anxiety. Deep breathing is a simple method used to relax, recenter focus, and let go of some stress. Practice deep breathing with your child. Take a few minutes after dinner, before your child starts studying, or right after school, to take some deep breaths together. This will give your child a tool to use before or during an exam and it will bring down your own anxiety levels.
A Calm Presence
Being a calm presence can help your child feel less anxious about exams. You can be a supportive ear, a voice of encouragement, and even a sort of trainer. Use these three simple tools to help your child combat their test anxiety so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.