Testing has become more and more a part of the school life process. Final exams and testing for college such as SATs and ACTs have always been expected to be a bit of a stressful time for kids, but now standardized testing is given in nearly every school year and more importance than ever is being placed on test results. For some children, classroom learning and homework are a breeze, but when it comes time to take a test they’re filled with a level of anxiety that isn’t healthy or productive. Not only can “test stress” affect a child’s academic career when their test results don’t match their abilities, but this stress can actually be dangerous to your child’s health.
Being nervous before a big test is normal and healthy. But beware of anxiety that causes your child to lose sleep or become physically ill with symptoms such as a stomach or headache. If there seems to be a big discrepancy between your child’s results on homework or practice test results and the results of an actual test, your child may suffer from test anxiety. Help your child put these tests into perspective; point out the ways that your child is brilliant and academically successful to remind them that a bad test result doesn’t make them “stupid.” Walk them through the cause and effect of taking a test and getting a bad result. Ask them “What is the worst thing that will happen if you do poorly?” Help them realize it’s not the end of the world. If you do this when your child is younger and the tests are less crucial to things like college acceptance and career choices, you can help them get their anxiety under control for those major tests later on. Finally, make sure you don’t put extra pressure on your children and remind them you’ll love them no matter what.