October 1, 2018
Exam Anxiety: Helping Your Child Overcome It
Human beings are driven by emotions. We experience feelings of joy, anger, sadness, and relief with changing scenarios. Getting anxious is also an integral part of our behavior. One of the leading types of anxieties is exam anxiety. It’s a universal problem and almost all of us face it at some point in our lives. It’s a trait that can have negative effects on our personality and future success.
Exams rattle us all. High school students seem to face exam anxiety most often. It can be stressful because it makes you lose focus for prolonged periods of time. As a responsible parent, you should take the following steps to help your child manage exam anxiety.
The process of dealing with exam anxiety is a series of rational steps which include observing the symptoms in your child, finding the causes behind them, and helping your child overcome those issues. If you don’t prepare your child for dealing with exam anxiety, she might be left behind compared to other children.
In this article, our top tutors have created a process of dealing with exam anxiety, and structured it into bite size components so that you can help your child manage their stress on test day.
Symptoms of Anxiety
The foremost thing in fighting anxiety is to learn about the symptoms associated with it. The symptoms help you reach the base of the problem. As a parent, you must be able to read the symptoms emerging in your child. It requires you to engage thoroughly with your child during his learning years.
Physical symptoms are associated with the personality of your child. These symptoms appear whenever your kid engages in demanding activities. Increased release of sweat from your body is the first sign associated with physical symptoms.
Apart from sweating, your kid might face shortness of breath as a result of anxiety. This is due to increased tension and associated increase in heartbeat. This is a serious issue which needs to be dealt with in the early stages otherwise it could lead to severe problems for your child in the future.
Lack of concentration is another physical symptom which is associated with exam anxiety. Due to increased levels of stress, your child loses concentration and doesn’t take any interest in things happening around him. He could lose focus in his family and social life, which can have other negative impacts on his health and well-being.
Exam anxiety changes your child not only at the physical level but at the mental level as well. The mental capacity of your kid could be greatly affected come test time; making your child appear as if she isn’t as smart as she truly is. As a parent, you should help your child reduce the levels of stress and anxiety otherwise, she might begin to doubt her own abilities.
Rapid mood swings, rage, and anger coupled with excessive emotional behavior are some of the mental symptoms associated with exam anxiety.
Negative thinking, yelling at family and friends, and poor memory are behavioral symptoms that students facing exam anxiety often experience.
Causes of Exam Anxiety
Fear of Failure
Fear is the biggest enemy of all of us. It keeps us from taking brave steps. If we have fear of a certain thing then we will be unable to perform our best at that particular thing. Your kid might be having a fear of failure which is leading to anxiety.
Lack of Confidence
Lacking confidence when taking on a task can often negatively impact our performance. This trait is often found in children going to school. If your kid is not having enough confidence in his personality then he will not be able to express himself properly which will result in lack of creativity. Once you’re short on creativity and confidence, your anxiety can grow exponentially.
Fear of Repeating Past Mistakes
There might be a time when your daughter used to be confident in her abilities. But then, a failure led to the loss of confidence and promoted fear of failing again. This is a common problem seen in many children. It’s natural that your kid doesn’t want to fail. So to avoid failure, she might be avoiding truly trying and giving her best effort. Her brain rationalizes that if she doesn’t fully try, she can’t be accurately evaluated. “You can’t find my true potential,” her actions seem to say.
The solution? Teach your child to have a “growth mindset” about life and learning.
Tips to help your Child
Once you have studied the prevailing symptoms and associated causes, the next phase is dealing with the core of the problem. It requires you to engage with your kid and help him out. This all starts with giving proper time to your child on a daily basis. There are no shortcuts to help your child out of this problem. It is a long process that takes time and consistent effort and support. Students and children need to know that someone is there for them: that they have someone they can count on (and someone who is counting on them).
There are many ways to which you can help your child avoid exam anxiety. The following is a list that our top Portland educators and tutors have created:
Assist In Studying For The Test
The most basic thing which promotes anxiety is the difficulty which your kid might be facing in preparing for his test. There could be problems which he is not able to understand, or there might be a proportion of syllabus he hasn’t covered.
As a responsible parent, you need to assist your kid with the his studying. You can help him cover topics and sit down with him to study. This will be a huge boost to your child’s confidence. He will be more comfortable in dealing with the problems which he previously found daunting.
The bottom line is: someone needs to be engaging with your child, 1 on 1, on a consistent basis.
Ask Her To Prepare Her Own Notes
When you write something down, research shows that you are much more likely to remember it. You can interpret it in your own style, and practice writing it in your own words. This is helpful practice come exam time. Ask your daughter to prepare and write notes and even explain them to others if she can. This will help her listen to other student’s views and thus increase her levels of understanding. This will be a huge boost of confidence.
Teach Her To Be Expressive
You need to be expressive to perform well in your exams. If you’re not able to express your thoughts and ideas on paper or through speech, your teacher won’t be able to accurately grade what you truly know.
Ask your kid to be fearless while sitting in the exam hall and to be expressive about her thoughts and ideas. This is not easy. As a parent, you can help your child learn how to be more expressive and resilient towards sharing ideas.
Talk To His Teachers
When it comes to learning, teachers can be very helpful. If your child is going through an exam anxiety situation, then his mentors should aware of it. (He does have a strong mentor and / or role model, right?) They are usually extremely useful in helping with exam anxiety and other issues.
Ask the teacher what is going on. Your teacher has hundreds of hours observing your child in class. She normally knows what is happening. If not, you can ask her to pay special attention to how your child is doing on exam day. If problems persist, our tutors recommend meeting with a teacher regularly.
Get Help From Professionals
A professional who has been dealing with similar issues for years can help your child out of the situation. A psychologist or a therapist can help your kid relieve stress and tension through interactive activities. Apart from activities, a professional can help your kid control his brain in a much better way. Controlling your brain is important to get control over your emotions. If your kid is able to manage his emotions then he will be able to manage exam stress as well.
Go Hiking, Or Spend Time In Nature
It is necessary to take breaks from your regular routine as it helps you relieve stress and maintain focus. A refreshed mind helps you be more creative and thoughtful.
You can arrange intermittent breaks from your child’s education and take him to a hill, lake, park, or somewhere refreshing. This will bring him closer to nature. Research shows that nature improves the functioning of our brain and reduces stress. It is important you schedule time for your child to have inner reflection. If your child understands herself better, she will become more confident and better able to solve her own problems and cure her own exam anxiety.
Indulge In Stress Relieving Exercises or Sports
Sports and exercise are great ways to reduce stress. First of all, exercise has been proven to improve your mood. Students often stop studying or don’t study because they aren’t feeling good. When students take time to exercise, they actually end up feeling better and getting more done.
Exercise releases endorphins.
Ask Him To Change His Habits
Your kid’s eating and sleeping patterns greatly impact his mental behavior. If he has sleeping issues or bad diet problems, then you should get to work immediately and help him recover from these bad-habits. If not properly addressed, these could lead to serious health issues, bad behavior, and exam anxiety.
Set a daily routine for your child, one which includes his sleeping and waking up times. Cook him better food. Ask him to eat his vegetables and fruit. Try to have him cut down on his refined sugars and processed foods.
Here is an article about how to cook healthy foods for your children.
Exam Anxiety: This Too, Shall Pass
Life gives you a new opportunity at each turn. Your child must learn this if he wants to be successful in life. Tell your child that a failure is not the end. (It’s simply an opportunity to learn, grow, and start working harder and smarter.)
Teach your child that failure is a one time event, it’s not a person or character trait. We might fail at certain things, but that doesn’t mean we are “failures.”
A supportive attitude from those around him will help him reduce exam anxiety at a much faster rate. Tell your child that you believe in him. Tell him that you love him no matter what happens.
Every Time You Fail You Learn Something
Your child is currently going through a phase of learning. Remind her that learning should be fun.
Tell her that when you fail, you don’t actually fail but learn something new. If she builds this attitude, she will lose her anxiety problems and will be more confident going into exams.
Children who have been suffering from exam anxiety problems can recover to normal conditions if their issues are properly dealt with. It is the responsibility of the parents, and to a large extent of the teachers, to help children make their way to confident test taking skills.
Parents can learn from the topics we’ve discussed here, and the links to other great articles that our tutors have provided. If these therapies are properly applied, then your child will perform better as a result.
If your child continues to struggle with her learning, you should seek professional support. A mentor, psychologist, or tutor can often help your child improve her mindset and grades. Please contact us if you have any questions about the future success of your child.
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