This blog is for educational purposes only.
Test anxiety is a type of performance anxiety that relates to fears and worries about engaging in a task or activity that has an evaluative component. Everybody experiences performance fears at different points in their lives and to different degrees.
Tasks and activities triggering performance anxiety most commonly include tests, presentations, and interviews. While some stress might lead to productivity and better performance, a high level of anxiety interferes with an individual's ability to think, reason, and perform well.
If your child shows intense test or performance anxiety that gets in the way of studying or doing their best, you might consider the following approach to address these issues to help them overcome their fears and build confidence.
Here are a few tips to open a discussion with your child. You can pick and choose questions and reflections that resonate with you.
2. Help your child find out what gets in the way of preparing and doing well on tests and presentations. We will call this a self-awareness part of overcoming the problem.
Here are some common factors that may impact people's preparation for tests and presentations and their performance in actual events.
Poor study habits/procrastination
Lack of skill/difficult subject
Anxiety coping strategies
Reinforce acceptance of anxiety: You can say, "Expect that you will get anxious and accept it when it happens." This powerful attitude will build up your child's ability to cope with big feelings, persevere, do their best, and take little strides every day in building self-acceptance and self-confidence.
Once you identify the contributing factors to your child's anxiety, you need to ask them which factors are within their control and which are not. Then tackle them one by one.
Reflect on this: "What are my goals? Depending on what gets in the way of doing well, my goals are: _________________________________________________________________ ."
Understand the underlying causes of poor performance. Address them. Make a plan.
Find which coping strategies work well for you and remind yourself to use them regularly.
Have fun! Encourage your child to notice when they're able to follow through on their plan and accomplish small goals.
Consider saying to your kids: "Notice when you do well despite feeling anxious. Notice when your fears get in the way of doing your best. When this happens, be kind to yourself! Get back on track knowing that you can handle your big fears and achieve many small goals to help you tackle bigger goals along the way."
Our book, Parent-Child Guide to Coping with Anxiety, provides step-by-step guidelines for caregivers and children to face anxiety-triggering situations with a sense of purpose, curiosity, and self-compassion and achieve small and big meaningful goals.
Wishing you strength and inspiration on the way to helping your child overcome their test and performance anxiety and build their confidence.
Notice small successes and how good it feels to achieve small goals.