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How Can I Help My Child With Exam Stress?

From a first grade reading exam all the way through the BIG college application tests, exam stress is a real thing that kids have to grapple with -- and it can be so hard to watch your child struggle. So what can you do to give her some extra tools for those tough days? Here are some things I tell my ACT/SAT prep students and I think they hold for all ages...

  1. Acknowledge it. Say hi to the feeling (not.. literally, unless you want to) and know it's there.

  2. DO NOT keep taking your test. Put that pencil down, take a breath, and wait for the rushing feeling to settle.

  3. Breathe in for four, out for seven. Count. In, in, in, out, out, out.... Your body thinks it's under attack; this will lower your heart rate and let it come back to reality.

  4. Journal! I love journaling as a way to pour out all the anxieties. You can use this space to go through the last tip...

  5. What's the worst that can happen? The absolute worst. "I fail the ACT and don't get into ANY colleges". Okay. Then what? "I can't get ANY jobs". Huh. Okay. Is that realistic? ", not really".

Because in the grand scheme of things....

It's not a big deal. It's just not. It's a test. It has no bearing on how good you are, how kind you are, how smart you are. It's one test. And if you have a kid who is already worried, she doesn't need extra pressure -- it's okay to not do well if you try. It's okay to stumble if you get back up.

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