As many children are approaching the end of the school year, final exams and standardized tests are on their mind. This can mean extra stress for kids as they take practice tests, complete extra worksheets, and worry about advancing to the next grade level.
Unfortunately, feelings such as nervousness and fear have a negative impact on children’s ability to think clearly, and to perform well on tests. The good news is, we can help your kids learn how to calm their nerves by helping them be more mentally prepared with these three mindset skills:
First: Teach kids to develop a positive mindset about the test
These thoughts don’t create good grades on tests.
Instead, they create fear and anxiety which can make it very difficult for children to think clearly and to recall what they’ve learned.
Remember, our thoughts create our beliefs, and our beliefs create our results. If kids have negative beliefs about their ability to perform well on a test, their result will most likely be a poor performance on the test.
Third: Teach kids how to calm their minds
When thoughts of failing creep into a child’s mind, the child may feel anxious and afraid. These feelings actually change which part of the brain is active during the test! (When children are anxious or afraid, the “fear brain”, which controls fight-or-flight, takes over their mind and shuts down their “thinking brain” which is critical for the higher level thinking skills needed for taking tests). Therefore, when they are taking tests, it’s critical that kids learn how to keep their brain in the game by calming their nerves.
One of the most effective calming techniques is belly breathing because it helps slow the heart rate and calm the body.
You can show kids this technique in just a few minutes.
Finally, remember that kids often look to us to see how they should respond to situations. If you’re anxious about the test, then they will feel anxious about the test, too. Talk with them about the importance of always doing their best work, and let them know that you believe in them and their ability to do well!