May 10

Helping Children with Exam Stress

Coping with Exam Stress blogAs children across Australia in Grades 3,5,7 and 9 sit down to start NAPLAN tests today, there may be some who are feeling a bit stressed or worried about it. Parents can play an important role in identifying exam stress in their children and helping their children to cope with this and do their best.

Noticing the signs of exam stress

Often children show signs of exam stress more through their behaviour rather than their words. Signs of stress to look out for in your child around test time include:

  • being more disagreeable, fidgety or irritable than usual
  • becoming upset more easily especially over little things that normally wouldn’t matter
  • showing signs of being more clingy towards a parent
  • a lack of interest in activities they normally love to do

How parents can help ease exam stress

Parents are often in the best position to help their children cope with stress. Here are four tips for parents to help reduce the stress a child might be feeling about doing NAPLAN.

1. Focus on effort not outcomes
Let your children know that what matters most is the effort they make while they are doing the test rather than the mark they get at the end. Discourage your child from comparing themselves to other kids in the class e.g. ranking where they were in the order of children finishing the test.
2. Normalise feelings of stress
Remind your child that everyone can feel a bit stressed when they are being tested. Perhaps you could tell them the story about a time when you were a child and experienced stress when you were doing a test. Talk about how you managed the stress and what you did to try and do your best.
3. Create a daily reward
Plan to have some little rewards at the end of each day as a way of recognising the effort your child has made to do their best. For example you could cook your child’s favourite food for dinner, offer some extra screen time or plan a play date with a good friend after school.
4. Help your child to plan
Ask your child how they have found doing the test. If they describe having difficulties then help them to make a plan to manage this better in the next test. For example they may have found some questions more difficult than others, so you could encourage your child to try answering the easier questions first which will help build their confidence to tackle the harder questions.

If you think your child may suffer from anxiety more generally across a range of situations, then getting help for them at a younger age may help to curb this from developing into a bigger problem later in their life. At Ahead Psychology we have psychologists who specialise in working with children and teenagers who need help to manage their stress and anxiety. Click here to book an appointment or make an enquiry.