4 Tips to Help your Child with Test Taking Anxiety

It’s true that test taking for some children can be incredibly scary. Sometimes it can feel impossible to help ease your child’s concerns when it comes to getting a good grade on a test. This is especially relevant today, when kids have more responsibilities than ever. If it’s not clubs, sports activities, special events, or school projects then its trying to keep up socially or keeping up with school… it’s very true that students these days have A LOT on their plate. Failing to understand our child’s anxiety can definitely impede our ability to help them when they need it most. 

Young girl wearing a blue jacket

Perhaps it plays out like this with your child test taking anxiety:

Your child has a test tomorrow and is getting extremely nervous. Maybe they try to get out of going to school tomorrow by saying they feel sick. Maybe they don’t want to even talk about what’s bothering them. You don’t know how to help or what is even wrong. All it does is make you feel more frustrated with your child… making things worse. She then goes into class to take the test. Her palms are sweating, her heart is beating faster than ever, and she starts to panic that all she studied has disappeared! When she looked at the test, it confirmed all the information she studied has disappeared! She doesn’t know what to do. She ends up guessing on a whole bunch of the questions and then cries after she turns in the test. You ask her how the test went and she cries to you too! you want to help but are at a loss on how to go about it. And when you do try, she just gets frustrated and says “leave me alone mom. It’s fine.”

Eventually you get to a place where you don’t even want to talk about school tests with your child because they just get more worried and you get increasingly frustrated.

Please know that this is completely normal. Many kids struggle with tests and have a hard time identifying their feelings about it, let alone discussing it with you. It’s important to take the first step and let your child know that they are not alone… and neither are you!  

toddler with a book

It’s true that test taking anxiety can feel overwhelming and leave your child feeling paralyzed with how to get a better grade and do well on tests. However, once you learn the steps in how to help your child with this issue, you will begin to see your child become more confident, with an increased ability to perform well on tests, regardless of the subject. As a result, YOU too will feel less stress and find you put less pressure on your child… leaving everyone feeling a whole lot better. Keep reading for some great and helpful strategies on how to support your child through test taking anxiety.

Before understanding your child’s test taking anxiety, you may notice you feel frustrated with them. You may not understand reasons why they struggle or know the steps to take to help them.

You may find yourself upset that you cannot help your child and that their anxiety is affecting you and your life. Maybe you worry if it will always be like this. 

While it is true that this is a stressful time and that wanting to help ease your child’s test taking anxiety may feel overwhelming… The key is to understand what your child is going through and learn the steps to help them. After learning the strategies to help your child with test anxiety, you will notice that you feel equipped to handle their concerns. You will have the tools to guide them through managing stress related to test taking and as a result, you will see your child become more confident. Making these changes will help you understand your child better and help them with test taking, when they need it the most. As a result, your child will feel more confident with test taking and have less anxiety overall and you will feel more connected to your child. 

chid test taking anxiety having trouble with upcoming test in school near in need of child therapy in Simi Valley ca

Make sure to read my 4 Tips to help your child with test taking anxiety! 

4 Tips to Help Your Child with Test Taking Anxiety

While it’s true you may be feeling frustrated, confused and even anxious yourself, you can help your child make the changes he or she needs to be a successful and confident test taker. Helping your child manage their feelings of anxiety is not as difficult as you think. Take a look at these tips to help you help your child through their struggle with test taking anxiety. 

Tip 1-Prepare for the test in advance  

When you help prepare your child for upcoming exams, you will in turn help them ease their anxiety about test taking. Your child will feel more confident going into their examination, and therefore, perform better overall. This in turn will help you to ease your own anxiety or frustrations regarding their test taking. 

There are many ways you can help your child prepare for a test in advance. Such as, starting as soon as the rubric comes out with the test date. Spreading out studying for the test into two weeks (or more, if possible), or practicing a mock test. Additionally, your child can benefit from a comprehensive study guide to help prepare properly.

Child therapy at Simi Psychological Group, you will learn about procrastination and how that plays into your child’s life (and maybe your own too!).

You will grasp how to avoid procrastination and get your child the help they need to succeed by modeling good preparation skills in your own life. Whether it’s making sure you are getting your child’s class rubric, checking their notes, or making sure they are getting proper tutoring, or even comparing their notes with fellow students to make sure they have Many times what’s causing the test taking anxiety is feeling of not being ready to take the test. Being prepared will help remedy the feelings of test taking anxiety. Once you can support your child through these feelings, you will notice improved results.

Tip 2-Learn Study Strategies to help with test taking anxiety

Sometimes a lack of knowledge on exactly how to take a test can affect your child’s confidence levels going into an exam. Working together we are here to help you find strategies that may work for a child’s test taking style. Simple tools like using mnemonics for writing down memorized material first, can help your child have a leg up on their exam. 

When you learn how to find the right strategies to help your child, you will find that planning for upcoming tests becomes more manageable. You will notice more consistency in your child’s study habits and their willingness to memorize concepts and clarify material. This will help your child avoid perfectionism and learn how to pace themselves during a test and ultimately succeed in test taking. This will only ease their anxiety for the next exam and boost confidence in their skillset. 

Tip 3-Address Anxiety 

Learning to manage your own anxiety will translate into your child having overall less anxiety. Having less anxiety will also help your child learn how to cope when anxiety runs a little higher, like right before a test. 

At Simi Psychological Group, our therapists like to focus on getting to the root of the issue. I will work with you on getting to the bottom of the anxiety. Then together we will begin incorporating several relaxation techniques for your family.

Strategies such as deep breathing can help to calm your child before the test and remain focused. Grounding exercises can also help your child to relax and feel more confident. Other techniques such as stress reducing visualizations and guided imagery are ways we can teach you to help your child with test taking. . Other practical measures may also help your child with test taking anxiety. These include getting to the testing room early and making sure they understand the questions. Also slowing down, keeping track of time and not paying attention to what others are doing in the room. 

Once your child can master getting a handle on their anxiety you will notice that their test anxiety greatly improves. Your worries regarding your child’s success in school will decrease, as you become reassured in their abilities. 

Tip 4-Self-Care Before A Test

Self-care is important any day… but before a big event (or a test) it’s extra important. Self-care before taking a test includes getting plenty of sleep the night before and having less sugary snacks or sodas before the test. Positive self-talk and incorporating some activity like aerobic exercise before the test to release tension is helpful. In addition is good to set goals for the test, reward your child for positive achievements. Perhaps with a little more electronic time or a small gift. Also,  instead of sugary snacks- opt for fueling up with nutritious snacks and plenty of water for hydration. 

In therapy, I will help you AND your child incorporate self-care into everyday life. Once you begin to notice how self-care can help you both, you will begin to feel so much better. You will feel less anxious about many things (including tests). Your child will begin to notice you using positive self talk (talking to yourself with compassion)  and learn to do the same.

They will no longer talk in a negative tone about their abilities in test taking. By modeling self-care and will see the difference it plays in your life. Your child will benefit from learning the importance of self-care and its role in achieving success. Together you and your child will grow and learn your needs and want. You will find ways to incorporate them for a healthier and happier life. 

Helping your child release their issues with test anxiety can be achieved resulting in a decline in your own stress as well. Learning key strategies and coping skills can help. Here at Simi Psychological Group we feel that each family member who comes to us with struggles, is part of a larger family system. Working with your family, not only to help your child in child therapy… but to lift up the entire family with the use of family counseling is our ultimate goal and we are here to help. 

Call Simi Psychological Group Today to have a more connected relationship with your child and help him through the struggles of test taking anxiety. CALL (858) 842-1994 today!

Written by, 

Reena Becerra, Ph.D. 

therapist in Simi Valley ca

I believe that through self-compassion, inspiration and hope it is possible for anyone to reach their deepest and truest goals.My focus is working with children, adolescents, and families that struggle with Anxiety, ADHD, Depression and relationship issues. I also have a strong passion for working with adults with a history of trauma. Healing, self-love and acceptance and growing through transformation, are all within reach. Learning to truly love and connect with one’s self and others is a true gift and it is my honor to be on this journey with you. Learn more

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At our Simi Valley mental health practice, we offer Child therapy, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing. We are now offering online therapy Los Angeles and Ventura County residents.