Kids everywhere are busy preparing for end-of-the-school-year tests. It might the SAT’s or other exams for post-secondary education opportunities, or it might be state testing. Still, it might be testing that determines whether they advance to the next grade level. No matter the test, there is likely to be one common denominator — anxiety.

Testing is critical because it reveals not only what our children have learned, but also what they’re capable of. It shows positive and negative aspects of our educational system and what needs to be changed, supplemented, or highlighted. 

Here are some ways parents and kids can overcome testing anxiety, together.

Create a positive environment

A recent article from The Miami Herald included some excellent tips for parents and kids to overcome testing anxiety. One of the strategies discussed was the power of positive thinking. We all know that our thoughts determine our feelings. That’s why a smile on our face often makes us feel happy. It’s a similar situation with test taking. If your child is stressed and fearing the worst, that will do nothing for their ability to succeed. 

Instead, give your child a worry-free environment at home prior to the test and focus on their successes in previous high-stress situations. Recall a test that they were worried about and then passed with flying colors, or talk about a performance they had to prepare for and pulled off perfectly. If your child feels empowered and confident, their chances of success will likely skyrocket.

Set a routine

Another element to consider is your routine. I know some parents who put the clamps on any extracurricular or family activity in the days leading up to important testing. It seems that might be counterproductive. By disrupting the normal routine, we take our children out of their comfort zone. When a test is on the horizon, it might be best to continue with the expected nature of our day-to-day lifestyle. Also, by changing our routine, it gives the test even more power. Keep things simple and predictable.

Laugh

Another thought that caught my attention in the aforementioned article was to laugh. That’s right, if you keep things light and fun, it helps keep everyone in the right frame of mind and reduces the amount of test stress.

Again, it’s about the kind of power that we give the test our children are about to take. If we can maintain a certain context for our kids with a sense of humor, we might send them a message that life goes on no matter the outcome of that exam.

Keep things in perspective

As parents, we have our own set of anxieties and fears for the success of our children. We want them to succeed on tests and exams because we want them to get into a good college or graduate with a high grade. We hope they can get a scholarship to that expensive school or get into a prestigious program. But at the end of the day, the outcome is the outcome and our child will succeed or fail on his or her own. We must try to see these tests in that light or we will place far too much credibility on them.

What if they don’t do well? It happens. And dealing with failure is an important step in life.