Test-Taking Anxiety: 5 Tips to Help Parents Recognize the Signs & Help Their Kids! by Donna John
A U.S. Dept. of Education study found that 61 percent of high school students suffer from test anxiety. "Some degree of student test anxiety is normal,” said Jennifer Cooper, assistant professor at National Louis University’s School Psychology program. “When the anxiety causes impairment and students can’t demonstrate the knowledge they have, it’s time to take a closer look, and potentially seek help from a qualified professional.” Here are a few tips from Cooper to help parents recognize and reduce student test anxiety:
- Know when your child’s anxiety needs attention. To do this, Cooper suggests maintaining an open line of communication with teachers.
- Initiate age-appropriate conversations and inquire about children’s feelings. Conversation starters can include: “How often do you have these feelings of worry?” “I noticed that when you were taking your practice test yesterday, you seemed nervous and distracted. Do you feel that way often?” For younger students who are not as verbal, parents can share feeling faces as visual helpers for children to identify their feelings.
- Identify past coping strategies and build on what has worked. “When you feel this way, how have you had success turning things around?”
- Replace negative thoughts with positive self-talk. Encourage the adoption of an upbeat, but realistic attitude: “I prepared carefully for this test. If I do my best, I have a good chance of passing it.”
- Validate and support their feelings. Let children know that everyone worries to some degree, as a protection and safety mechanism. However, when anxiety goes into overdrive, that is not healthy, and parents are there to support them and get them help.
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