Today I am sharing a way to help get rid of your child's test anxiety. This technique could be used by parents and teachers alike, for test taking, a big performance or anything else that gives your kids performance anxiety. Referral affiliate links to helpful resources are included in this post.
My kids are both in school now and we are cruising through elementary school at a quick pace. It's true what they say- “Blink and you'll miss it!”
As fast as life moves, there are always going to be bumps in the road.
Whether your kids attend public school, private school or homeschool, there will be times in their lives when they have to perform at a key moment. Maybe it's a big test, maybe it's the big game, or her first role on stage.
These moments can be hugely exciting but also rather daunting.
We had this experience earlier this year when we were told that one of our children was having a hard time finishing the big school assessment test. This testing was to continue on for a whole week. With days of testing to come, we were all the more motivated to figure out a solution.
When we dug a little deeper, it turns out that this test was a on a computer, it was timed, and our normally-quite-diligent student was stressed seeing other classmates finishing faster. All of these factors were contributing to stress, emotional symptoms and negative thoughts.
Luckily for us, it didn't reach the point of physical symptoms, like panic attacks or other more serious symptoms people experience with test anxiety, but perhaps you have reached that place and you're looking for some help.
Feelings about standardized tests aside, if you found out your child was struggling, I'm sure you'd want to do your best to help him or her to overcome this- or any type of performance anxiety.
The First Step – Find Out if Your Student is Comfortable with The Test Material
This might go without saying, but before I share the conversation I had with my child I wanted to mention it.
If your student needs help studying and learning the material, you need to know what areas to help in. So be sure to do a quick review of the topic to see *if* that is the problem.
You can help eradicate that kind of text anxiety by patiently sitting with your student and working through the lessons. (Easier said than done!)
If you feel like you are not the best one to help your student (I know I have felt that way!) you can also find a tutor or even go to YouTube and type in the lesson name and find many helpful videos to walk your student through their subjects (bonus they can help you understand the way subjects are taught these days too!)
For example, our 4th grade teacher uses Eureka math and recommended the videos of Duane Habacker, who lists each and every lesson and walks through it. Super helpful for those of us who are newer to common core math.
If you are pretty sure that your student understands the material, and the performance anxiety is coming from somewhere else, this powerful technique below can be helpful.
Here is how we approached it.
How to Help Your Child Cope with Test Anxiety
I will walk you through the exact conversation we had but I want to give credit where credit is due.
I recently read a self improvement book about morning routines. I never expected it to turn me into a morning person, nor did I ever imagine in my wildest dreams that it would hold the key to helping our child to do a complete 180 when it comes to testing anxiety. But there were SO many valuable practices discussed in this book, and one in particular helped in this situation.
The practice is called visualization.
Olympic athletes use visualization before important matches. Visualization has helped win Super Bowls. High performing adults in every facet of life use it to rehearse important moments in the future.
Just because our kids might have “less on the line” than a gold medal, doesn't mean they can't use this powerful technique to help rocket through their big day.
Here is how visualization looks when we are talking about text anxiety.
Some time before the test, choose a calm moment to sit down and talk with your child. I chose to snuggle up to do this because we are a family of snugglers, but sit in a comfortable spot that works for you.
Now you can verbally talk through the big day, step by step, vividly, from the moment you wake up, until after the big moment is over. The more detail the better.
You might say something like this, replacing our details with yours:
“Close your eyes, I want you to imagine something important. Really try to feel what I am describing as if you are there right now.
In the morning you are going to wake up like any other day, after a really good night's sleep. Imagine yourself getting out of bed, coming down and having breakfast (yum waffles!) and getting ready for your day. You put on a great outfit and you feel ready for a great school day to match. When it's time to leave you give me a big hug and kiss, and head off to school.
When it comes time for your test, imagine sitting down in your seat, and seeing the first question. Imagine knowing that this test was designed for you. It is filled with questions that you can answer. Now it's time to get started. Imagine how good it will feel to finish that first question, letting it be a reminder that you know everything you need to know to finish this test.
You keep going, question after question. Maybe you will get to a tricky one, but you've solved those before. Just take a deep breath, read it slowly and remember that you know how to do it. You finish the tricky one, and boy does that feel good.
As you get into a groove, each time you finish a question, you know you have what it takes to do the next one. You see the progress bar on the screen moving closer and closer to the end.
Finally you finish the LAST question and you're done. Imagine the pride you will feel knowing that you just finished. It will feel SO good to be done. Imagine telling your teacher and seeing the look on her face. Imagine how great you will feel the rest of the day, knowing you had everything you needed to finish the test. And don't forget the moment when you get home and tell us all about your day. How good is it going to feel to tell us about finishing that test?!”
Make sure to follow up with more close connection with your child, and of course, do what you can to ensure a good night's sleep and plan a good breakfast to fuel that brain all day long.
I can tell you that I will never forget the look on my child's face after the test that day. ❤️
Visualization Resources for Kids … And Adults
If this is new and feels weird, it's ok. Everything feels weird the first time you do it. But this is a technique you and your family can use together for anything. Every extracurricular activity, every sport, even in college, dating and out in business life. I wish I had this habit sooner in life.
For another method, I love this Painted Picture method described in great details by the CEO of a $100 million company.
I have really come to enjoy using visualization in my own life, and of course there is even an app for that! One of the best habits I have developed since reading that morning routine book is to use this wonderful visualization app. Everything I've read about visualization says that the more vivid your visualizations are, the better, and this app makes it so vivid for me that I have actually had happy tears running down my face. (I'm an easy cryer but still).