The lucky 7 toolbox of simple ways to cope with test anxiety

Some children are more prone to experiencing anxiety than others. Rather than dismiss their genuine feelings of anxiety, we can make their life easier and give them tools to manage their stressful situations and build a foundation for their future.

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  • Some children are more prone to experiencing anxiety than others. Rather than dismiss their genuine feelings of anxiety, we can make their life easier and give them tools to manage their stressful situations and build a foundation for their future.

  • One of the more common events in a child’s life that causes stress is having test or academic performance anxiety. (Children are not alone in this fear; many adults avoid a testing situation with great gusto.) When you address the fear and anxiety with your children, you allow them a way to safely express their concerns. For many, test anxiety can cause butterflies in the stomach, but there are some whose nervousness escalates to sheer panic. There are several strategies in dealing with test anxiety, and below are just a few.

  • 1. Put anxiety under arrest and force it to remain silent

  • When the heart starts beating faster and negative thoughts and feelings surface, teach your child to say, “Stop!” or another strong word. This can put their mind at ease and chase away those feelings of anxiety that are plaguing them.

  • 2. Take a moment to catch some ZZZ’s – of the daytime variety

  • Teach your child to take a few minutes before the test to daydream about something pleasant. They can arrive in the class a few minutes early, think of more pleasant thoughts than the test, and go into the test relaxed.

  • 3. Imagine a good outcome

  • Anxiety and fear are all about worrying and imagining a bad outcome to our present actions. Turn the tables on fear and anxiety and imagine a good (or even great!) outcome.

  • 4. Positive self-talk

  • Along with imagining a good outcome, keeping self-talk positive is helpful to keeping a good perspective in any situation. Avoid using negative self-talk to avoid teaching it to your child. If you hear your child being self-deprecating, stop them and express your concern about how they are talking to one of your favorite people (themself).

  • 5. Take a trick from childbirth

  • Focus on one particular object in the room as you breathe deeply. This will focus and direct the mind to be more controlled and allow your child to be focused on recalling and expressing their knowledge in the assessment.

  • 6. Take a breath

  • While sounding very basic, deep breaths do a few things for anxiety. Focusing on our breathing and consciously slowing it down allows us to have an outward manifestation of conquering stress. We overcome the rapid and shallow breathing that comes when we are anxious, and gives the body a reset motion. Deep breathing should be inhaling through the nose, with the stomach expanding and exhaling through the mouth.

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  • 7. Can it be any worse

  • ?

  • When all else fails, invoke the granddaddy of Murphy’s Law. Imagine the very worst case possible and elaborate upon it. The more ridiculous and implausible the scenario is, the better the effect. (At my house, this coping strategy always involves an invasion force landing in the backyard from outer space and goes on from there.) This brings a sense of perspective and laughter to a stressful situation.

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A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.

Website: http://www.FirstAnswers.com

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