Your Parenting Info Sign Up

Curbing Test Anxiety in Tweens

by Tania Cowling | January 9th, 2014 | School, Tweens

hand testHow does your Tween feel about taking tests? Does he become jittery, feel butterflies in his stomach, or actually feel nauseous? He could be suffering from test anxiety. Yes, it’s a real thing! In Florida, children study throughout the school year for the FCAT (Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test). It’s a state-mandated test for grades 3 through 11 mainly on reading, math, science, and writing. It’s the ultimate stressor of the year for Tweens in our area. My kids were no exceptions.

Some children do okay with daily or weekly tests, and others freeze with fear when attempting to take a quiz. Here are a few ideas to downplay the anxiety of test taking whether it’s a chapter test or an annual assessment.

Let’s Talk

Take time to talk with your Tween about taking tests and his fears. Don’t use the D-day attitude, but calmly talk about the test that’s coming up. How does he feel about it? Talking is a good way to get out the jitters and feel like someone really cares — it’s soothing. And please stay away from words like “stress” and “anxiety” that may only push your child’s panic button. Make sure to explain to your Tween the importance of these tests and why they are necessary, but that you’ll always love him no matter the outcome. Some kids really need your reassurance.

The What If and Optimism

Sometimes the unknown or the “what ifs” are a major cause of anticipatory anxiety. Let your Tween verbalize his fears — like, “What if my mind goes blank?” Reassure him that doing a little studying beforehand and carefully reading the questions before answering is a sure way to have a successful test day. Sometimes making up a practice test and taking it at home helps your Tween build critical thinking skills and also helps him work through the logic of some multiple choice questions.

Practice Some Relaxation Exercises

Does your child know the breathing techniques to calm the body? Have him practice this simple exercise. Sit up straight with eyes closed. Slowly inhale air through the nose and hold for three seconds. Then, with puckered lips, let out the air twice as long as the inhale. Do this just a couple times — it slows down the heart rate and relaxes you.

Keep Up Good Daily Habits

First, make sure your Tween gets a good night’s sleep. Cramming for a test at the last minute doesn’t always help, you either know the material or you don’t. A restful sleep will keep the brain sharp. Next, provide a good breakfast in the morning — something with protein and not a lot of sugar to get the jitters started. Get your child to school on time the day of the test and encourage him to do his best.

Taking tests will be a part of your child’s life for many years. Getting your Tween off to a good start and learning the skills of test taking will follow him throughout school and his career. After the tests are done; breathe, relax, and treat your Tween to a much-needed treat. Maybe an ice cream sundae will turn that frown into a smile!

Comments on Curbing Test Anxiety in Tweens