Our kids our facing more and more stress. An article from WebMD points to a WebMD survey that found 62% percent of kids with stress report physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches. The article cites testing as one of the sources for stress for many children. While we may not be able to help our kids avoid tests, we can help them approach tests in a way the prevents stress and anxiety.
Eat and Sleep
You can make sure your kids get a healthy meal and a good night of sleep before a test. The right kinds of foods can give your kids energy and brain power so they feel great on the day of an exam. Try to balance protein and carbohydrates and limit sugar, fats, and oils. A green salad with spinach and kale, guacamole, fish, nuts, and berries are all foods that have compounds that fuel the brain and the body. Resting well will help your child stay focused on the test. It is easier to concentrate and recall material after a full night of sleep.
Instead of spending hours reviewing the night before the exam, schedule some time for play. Younger kids will benefit greatly from dramatic play. Pretending gets the mind working. Engaging in complex, creative play can power up the brain and encourage problem solving. Older kids may enjoy playing a game of basketball, frisbee, or soccer. They may want to play a board game or just for a walk. Physical activity can help relieve stress. Some studies have found it may even help improve memory and recall. Board games or other strategic games can power up critical thinking in a way that doesn’t feel stressful.
Offer words of encouragement. Confidence can be the one key to keeping anxiety at bay. Be sure to complement your child on their effort. Help them understand that the work they put in helps them perform well on the test. Complementing children in this way helps them feel like they have agency and power over the test. If you only complement how well they did on the test, they may not connect their preparation and hard work to their performance.
An Ordinary Day
Help your child have what they need to succeed on their test, but also treat test day without much special recognition. Try to make testing day just an ordinary day. Amping up feelings and emotions about the test will add pressure and anxiety making your child feel stressed. You have the power to encourage your child and give them the confidence they need to feel calm and relaxed about their tests.