Exam stress in kids is common. Learn what you can do to reduce this.
Do you find your little one extremely irritated a week before the exam or do they show signs of lethargy when normally they are very active? Chances are they are going through exam stress aka performance anxiety. When a child feels worried about how they will perform an important task, it is called performance anxiety.
The 33rd edition of the Annie E Casey Foundation’s Kids Count Data Book revealed, 12% of American children aged from 3 to 17 were experiencing anxiety or depression. The number went up by 197,000 in 2022.
It can happen for various reasons. Normally competition in the school and a huge syllabus boost anxiety. But children who want to secure good grades can become prey to this negative feeling. Sometimes kids with ADHD or learning disabilities also suffer from exam stress.
A tense kid shows multiple symptoms. These are
- Frequently worries
- Feels stressed most time
- Often complains about headaches and stomach pains
- Wakes up middle of the night
- Shows irritability
- Eats less or starts overeating
- Avoids activities that he or she used to enjoy
- Always in low moods
- Hopelessness about the exam
You can help your child in many ways. Follow the below-mentioned steps to bring back their confidence.
6 Ways to beat exam stress in kids
1. Help them maintain a healthy lifestyle
Having a good lifestyle is important to reduce stress.
According to the famous psychiatrist, Dr, Lim Boon Leng, “ Regular Cardiovascular exercise – 20 minutes, three times a week – helps the mind function better and reduces anxiety.” He added, “It boosts confidence and because it’s time away from studying, is a good way to relax.”
You can also encourage your little one to walk, swim, play, or dance. List down activities that involve more than two people. Do them with your child.
All these are essential to enhance positivity. Further, make sure they are having sound sleep. Kids need a minimum of 8-10 hours of nap time to concentrate better and retain information.
Give them at least 30 minutes to wind down after watching TV or studying. Ensure that they start practicing these habits way before the exam to reap its benefits.
2. Stay calm during the exam week
If your child is super worried about the test and revising the syllabus all day, it’s best to keep yourself calm. Give space and don’t bother them about their untidy bed or room. It will feed their negative emotions.
Shower the youngsters with lots of encouragement. Reassure them before they go in for the test. Let them know that getting bad grades is not the end of the world.
They can always reappear for the test. After the exam, talk about the questions that your kid was able to solve and give them credits for it. Then focus on preparing for the next exam day.
3. Structure their time-table
Clinical psychologist, Carol Balhetchet shared, “ To reduce your child’s panic about not having enough time for revision, teach him how to structure his time from as early in the year as possible.”
Thus the kid will realize that he or she has plenty of time to prepare. It will strengthen his confidence level. Check if the child is utilizing the time wisely so that he or she doesn’t end up cramming at the last moment.
Take surprise tests. Good preparation will decrease the overwhelming feeling.
4. Address their catastrophic thinking
They might be worried about mispronouncing a word during an oral examination or getting stuck on a difficult question and running out of time. Understand what your kid is tensed about most and provide them with survival plans. Ask your little one, how you can help them with their study.
Come up with practical solutions to support the revision process. It could be making a schedule or taking an exam in a classroom-like environment. This process will minimize their fear.
5. Teach them visualization and breathing techniques
Ask them to visualize the happy moments of their lives. Additionally teach them breathing, meditation, and other mindfulness techniques. Freda Sutano, an educational and developmental psychologist shared an excellent breathing exercise to put a child’s mind in a relaxed state.
She said, “ Tell him to imagine that his fingers are mountains and ask him to breathe in deeply while looking at his fingers. Then, as he exhales, tell him to slowly close his fingers down on his palm until the ‘mountains’ disappear.”
Teach this several month before the exam to get results. Remind them not to absorb their classmates’ nervous energy, while waiting for the test to start.
6. Give them rewards
Rewards don’t have to be something fancy. You can cook their favorite meal or extend their tv time. This will increase the secretion of positive hormones.
It is vital for battling negative feelings. Don’t forget to celebrate the end day of the exam by organizing a small party with family or your child’s friends.
Spend some time with your kid before the big exam. In the morning, go through the main points or tricky parts that your child is scared of. This will uplift his or her self-esteem and decrease their anxiety level.