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5 ways to help children overcome exam anxiety

As parents, you play a crucial role in supporting your child’s academic success and overall well-being. In today’s educational landscape, test anxiety and stress have become increasingly prevalent among students. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to help children overcome exam anxiety and equip them with effective strategies to manage anxiety and diffuse nerves during tests and exams. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with valuable insights into the benefits of helping your child overcome test anxiety and practical techniques to support them. By implementing these strategies, you can empower your child to approach tests and exams with confidence, reduce anxiety, and foster a positive learning experience.

help children overcome exam anxiety


How Helping Your Child Diffuse Nerves and Overcome Test Anxiety Helps


Assisting your child in managing test anxiety and diffusing nerves offers numerous benefits that contribute to their academic performance and overall well-being. When your child can effectively handle stress and anxiety, they are more likely to perform better academically. By approaching tests and exams with a calmer mindset, your child can focus their attention, think more clearly, and recall information more accurately, leading to improved grades and a boost in confidence. Moreover, learning how to manage anxiety equips your child with lifelong coping skills that can be applied to various situations, helping them lead a more balanced and fulfilling life. Reduced anxiety levels contribute to enhanced well-being, increased resilience, improved relationships, and a positive attitude towards learning.


Five strategies specifically tailored to help children overcome exam anxiety


1. Establish Exam Routines for Pre, During and Post Exam Time:


A Pre-Exam Routine: 

Creating a pre-exam routine is crucial as it sets the foundation for a successful exam experience. It helps students prepare both mentally and physically, reducing anxiety and boosting confidence. To create a pre-exam routine, start by allocating dedicated study time, breaking down the syllabus into manageable chunks, and organizing study materials. Establish a regular sleep schedule to ensure adequate rest, eat nutritious meals, and engage in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Lastly, avoid cramming and focus on reviewing key concepts and practising previous exam papers.


A during-exam routine: 

Having a during-exam routine helps students maintain focus, manage time effectively, and approach each question with clarity. Start by reading through the instructions carefully to understand the exam format and marking scheme. Allocate time for each section or question based on its weightage. Begin by tackling the easier questions first to build confidence and then move on to more challenging ones. Take short breaks if needed to recharge, but avoid getting stuck on a single question. Lastly, review your answers before submitting the exam paper, ensuring accuracy and completeness.


A Post-Exam Reflection Routine: 

A post-exam reflection routine allows students to learn from their exam experience, identify areas for improvement, and celebrate their achievements. Begin by taking a moment to decompress and relax after the exam. Reflect on the performance objectively, focusing on strengths and weaknesses. Analyze the types of questions that posed challenges and consider strategies for improvement. Seek feedback from teachers if possible. Celebrate accomplishments, regardless of the outcome, and use the reflection as a guide for future exam preparation.

By implementing these routines, students can approach exams with better organization, focus, and self-awareness, leading to improved performance and a more positive exam experience overall. Performance Learning can help you create all three routines for your child, get in touch with us to know more.


Implement Positive Self-Talk: 


Encourage your child to recognize and challenge negative thoughts or self-doubt that may arise before or during exams. Help them identify the specific negative beliefs they have about themselves or their abilities. Teach them to reframe these negative thoughts into positive and realistic affirmations. For example, if they think, “I always make mistakes,” they can reframe it as, “I have prepared well, and I am capable of learning from any mistakes I make.” Encourage your child to repeat these positive affirmations regularly to build self-confidence and counteract negative self-talk.


Create a Supportive Study Environment


Ensure that your child has a supportive and conducive study environment at home. Help them set up a dedicated study area that is quiet, well-lit, and free from distractions. Remove or minimize potential interruptions, such as noise from other family members or electronic devices.

help your child overcome anxiety & diffuse nerves towards tests and exams

Provide them with the necessary study materials, such as textbooks, notebooks, and stationery, to avoid unnecessary interruptions or frustrations. Encourage them to keep their study area clean, organized, and personalized with motivational quotes or pictures. A supportive study environment helps your child focus better, reduces anxiety, and promotes effective studying.


Practice Relaxation Techniques


Guide your child in practising mindfulness and relaxation techniques to manage exam-related stress and anxiety. Introduce them to deep breathing exercises, where they take slow, deep breaths in through their nose, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through their mouth. Encourage them to focus on the sensations of their breath, bringing their attention back to the present moment whenever their mind starts to wander. Teach them progressive muscle relaxation, where they systematically tense and release different muscle groups to promote relaxation and reduce tension. Regular practice of these techniques can help your child stay calm and centred during exams.


Break Down Study Material


Assist your child in breaking down their study material into smaller, more manageable chunks. Help them create a study schedule or plan that outlines specific goals for each study session. Encourage them to set realistic study goals and allocate sufficient time to cover each topic or subject. Breaking down the material into smaller portions helps prevent overwhelm and allows for more focused and effective studying. Encourage your child to use visual aids, such as mind maps or flashcards, to further organize and consolidate their learning.


Provide Test-Taking Strategies


Teach your child practical strategies to approach tests and exams confidently. Help them understand the structure and format of the different types of exams they will encounter. For example, if it’s a multiple-choice exam, teach them techniques such as reading all the options before selecting an answer or eliminating obviously incorrect choices. Encourage them to carefully read each question and instruction to avoid misunderstandings. Teach them time-management skills, such as allocating a specific amount of time for each section or question and leaving a few minutes at the end for review. Practice mock exams or timed quizzes together to help your child become familiar with the exam environment and build confidence.




Furthermore, it is crucial to acknowledge that test anxiety and nerves can manifest in various subjects, including mathematics. Math anxiety, in particular, can hinder a child’s ability to approach mathematical problems with clarity and confidence. As a parent, you can support your child by providing extra assistance in math, such as working through problems together, seeking the guidance of a tutor, or utilizing online resources that offer interactive math exercises. By addressing math anxiety head-on and offering targeted support, you can help your child develop a stronger foundation in mathematics and build the confidence needed to tackle math-related assessments. Additionally, the strategies discussed in this guide, such as creating a supportive environment and teaching relaxation techniques, can be applied across all subjects to help your child overcome test anxiety and perform at their best.

By implementing these effective strategies you can empower your child to manage test anxiety and approach assessments with confidence. Remember that each child is unique, and it may take time to find the most effective strategies for your child. With your unwavering support and guidance, your child will develop the skills needed to navigate academic challenges successfully and cultivate lifelong resilience.

By incorporating these strategies into your parenting approach, you can help children overcome exam anxiety and you can help your child thrive academically and create a positive and supportive learning environment to them achieve academic success.


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