Winter is not just the time of the holidays and spring break, it is also time for midterms and to study for the upcoming standardized tests. These tests are extremely important to your child’s future and you want to help them succeed. However, many children struggle from test anxiety. Test anxiety is a real problem and can damage your child’s ability to score well on tests. So to combat test anxiety here are some tips on how you can help them.
Test Anxiety Is On The Rise
According to The Washington Post, test anxiety is on the rise. Studies show that at least 20% of students suffer from severe test anxiety. This anxiety can cause more than just bad test scores, but can be damaging to their overall health. Test anxiety causes digestive issues, headaches, and nausea. These symptoms increase the amount of stress and anxiety your child faces, causing test anxiety to get even worse. So if your child is one of the 20% of students, it’s crucial to help them overcome their anxiety to keep them healthy.
Causes Of Test Anxiety
There are three main causes of test anxiety according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The first is the fear of failure. Students are concerned that they will test poorly and therefore, disappoint themselves and the people in their lives. The second is the lack of preparation. Students who feel they didn’t devote enough time to study or struggle to grasp the material in time for the test often find themselves overwhelmed and anxious when they take the test. The final cause is they have a poor test taking history. Test anxiety is a bit of a catch 22. Students get anxious the test so they test poorly and then because they tested poorly, they get anxious about the test. Fortunately, all of these main factors can be overcome with a little support.
The Fear Of Failure
There are some symptoms of fear of failure that you can watch for in your child. Psychology Today lists signs of the fear of failure as:
Worrying about what others think
Worrying about the future
Worrying that failure will disappoint people and make them lose interest
Negative opinions about their capabilities
Talking about how they will fail ahead of time
Unable to pinpoint why they failed a test
Headaches, stomachaches, and nausea right before the test
Easily distracted during test preparation
When your child is preparing for a test, watching for the symptoms of fear of failure will help you understand why they have test anxiety and how you can help.
Overcoming The Fear Of Failure
If your child has test anxiety because they are afraid to fail, there are a couple of things you can do. First, you should work on building your child’s self-esteem. Make sure they understand that if they fail a test, they haven’t failed you. Next you can work on some relaxation techniques together like breathing exercises or meditation. This will help them relax if they start negative self-talking before or during any exam. Finally, you should add a few healthy activities to their routine. Exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet, will reduce their body’s negative reactions to stress. This can help them relieve some of the pressure they will feel during test time.
Lack Of Preparation
The second cause of test anxiety is a lack of preparation. If your child feels they are not prepared, they will begin negative self-talk. Lack of preparation can happen in a couple of ways. The first is that your child just didn’t study enough before the exam. They may have gotten distracted or had the wrong priorities, so they know that they don’t understand the material and they are stressed because they’ll probably fail. The second is that they have studied the material but they do not understand it all the way. Maybe it’s because they struggle with the specific subject matter or perhaps the teaching methods are not working for them.
Helping Your Child Prepare
Luckily this is one of the easiest things to help your child overcome because there are plenty of practical things you can implement. First, you can help them design schedule so that they have plenty of time to study for any upcoming tests. You can make this a family priority by creating a calendar that you can hang in a high traffic area to always remind them. You can also implement some smartphone technology and set reminders on their phones or tablets. Secondly, if your child is struggling to understand the subject matter, you can work with their school to get them extra help from their teacher. You can also hire a tutor and get some supplemental resources like books and games so they have a variety of ways to learn the material. If your child feels prepared for the test, they are going to be less likely to have anxiety. In fact, they’ll be excited to show off their knowledge.
Poor Test History
Poor test history may be caused by lack of preparation and feeds into fear of failure. If your child did poorly on their last test, it’s very easy for them to believe that they will fail their next one. This then leads to the false belief that they are just bad at all tests and will always fail. This is a pretty harsh mentality that can really increase your child’s testing anxiety.
Build Their Testing Confidence
If your child failed their last test, there are some ways to help them build their confidence so they don’t just believe they will fail their next. First, you can go over the last test and see what areas they need to work on. It’s a good idea to talk to their teacher about the test because they will be able to help you understand why your child did not pass. Then from there you can go over the test with your child and help them understand the material they missed. This will help them know why they failed and that they are not the failure. Plus, going over this material will help them understand it so they are more confident when they take their next exam.
Addressing your child’s test anxiety is a great way to set them up for success. If your child is not afraid of failure, is completely prepared, and understands why they missed certain questions, they will take their next test with confidence.