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How Parents Can Help Relieve Test Taking Anxiety

It is safe to say that high stakes testing in public education has become a prevalent issue for students and parents alike. While facing a standardized test is stress-producing for most children, there are some youngsters for whom it is an overwhelming monster that evokes feelings of depression, anxiety, and outright fear. If your child suffers from test taking anxiety, there are things you can do to help her cope.

First, make a list of things that trigger test taking anxiety for your child. Some good questions to ask include, “What is it about taking the test that makes you feel scared?”  “What do you think will happen when you get actually sit down to take the test?”  “What do you think will help you do your best on the test?”  Talk with your child about each answer. You may be able to help her change some false beliefs about testing, which will be a great agent to relieve anxiety in and of itself.

Second, without minimizing the importance of the test, help her understand that testing is a part of life. While important, tests are not what will define her as a person. Assure her of her strengths and talents and that you know she will be able to do her very best. This may help to relieve general school anxiety, to give her confidence that her competence in the school setting is broader than any individual test.

Finally, the night before the test, relieve anxiety that your child may be feeling by ensuring a calm evening and a reasonable bedtime. Prepare a healthy breakfast the morning of the test and check to see if your child’s school allows a snack. Encourage your child with positive statements that instill confidence. Be prepared with a special activity after the test that will allow your child to unwind, such as a special movie time together.

If you have tried helping your child and she continues to experience test anxiety, contact a licensed professional counselor who can provide further assistance, or talk with your child’s school guidance counselor.

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