How to Help Kids and Teens with Test Anxiety

Photo of African American teen male sitting in a desk in a classroom with his hands on his head while staring down at the paper on his desk. Photo could represent test anxiety and the need for online solution focused brief therapy in Illinois or Florida.

Photo of African American teen male sitting in a desk in a classroom with his hands on his head while staring down at the paper on his desk. Photo could represent test anxiety and the need for online solution focused brief therapy in Illinois.When it comes to the academic year, there’s no time more stressful for kids and teens than standardized testing season and final exams. If you have a young student in your life who gets nervous about tests, you know how difficult it can be to help them feel calm and prepared before they sit down to take one.

While we all like our children to do well in school, it’s equally important that we teach them how to handle stress with grace. In this post I will share some tips on how parents can support their child during this crucial time.

Symptoms of Test Anxiety in Kids and Teens

Symptoms of test anxiety will vary widely depending on your child, but they tend to follow a similar pattern. Many kids and teens will feel nervous and tense before a test. They may complain of stomach aches, headaches, muscle pain or tension, butterflies in their stomach, rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, and fast breathing.

Your child may have trouble sleeping the night before an exam due to the stress. They may also have trouble concentrating, even if they do manage to get some studying done beforehand. Many times, their minds will keep looping back into fear of the looming test.

5 Tips for Helping Your Child with Test Anxiety

As hard as it is to watch your child stressed and anxious, there are things you can do to help alleviate some of it. Here are my 5 tips for helping your child with test anxiety.

Tip #1 – Let your child know that they’re not alone

Test anxiety is a real thing! It affects millions of kids and teens each year. Roughly 16–20% of students have high test anxiety. Another 18% have moderately-high test anxiety.

It’s important for kids to know that test anxiety is common, and it’s not a sign of weakness. In fact, many successful and famous people have struggled with it at some point in their lives.

Tip #2 – Help your child to prepare well for theirPhoto of Caucasian girl with long brown hair sitting on her knees in front of a wood table writing on a piece of paper while her mother sits beside her on a couch also holding papers and looking over her daughter's shoulder. Photo could represent the test anxiety daughter is feeling so they are doing practice exams together to ease her fears. Daughter would likely benefit from anxiety treatment for kids from an online solution focused brief therapist in Illinois. test

One way to reduce anxiety around tests is by taking timed practice tests together at home. Practice tests can usually be found online by doing a Google search. This helps your child know what kinds of questions will be asked during an exam and what types of answers are expected. This gives kids some familiarity with what they’ll encounter on exam day.

Remind your child that they’ve studied and prepared well and have the answers inside of them. If they’re struggling with a problem, encourage them to make an educated guess and then move on to the rest of the exam. Remind them that they’re smart and can do it!

Tip #3 – Encourage your child to talk about their feelings

Encourage your child to talk about their feelings, as well as what they’re good at and how that can help them with the test.

If your child is feeling really anxious, try having them write down all of their worries on paper before they go to sleep or when they wake up in the morning. Then they can take a look at it and see if there’s anything they still need to talk through with you.

Tip #4 – Show your child how to relax before an exam

Teaching your child how to relax right before they begin their exam is important. This might mean taking a deep breath, closing their eyes and counting to 10.

When nervous or anxious, it can be hard to catch your breath, so have your child take some intentional time to do so. The more oxygen they have flowing through their body, the better prepared they will be for what comes next.

Photo of smiling Caucasian girl with brown hair in a pony tail and wearing a green and blue flannel shirt. She is holding a red folder up close to her chest with a tote bag on her right shoulder and a ear phone around her neck. Photo could represent how happy she feels since getting treatment for test anxiety from Briefly Counseling in Illinois.Tip #5- Don’t place too much emphasis on one exam

Remember that while tests are important and can provide valuable information about your child’s progress, they are only one piece of many in measuring their success at school.

Encourage your child to let feelings of disappointment or failure go if they don’t do well on a particular exam. They should know that it takes time and effort before they can master something new.

Again, test scores only measure a small part of what your child knows so don’t allow your kids to define their success by test scores solely. Help them to cultivate a positive attitude about their learning and their future.

Feeling anxious during testing season is normal, but you can help your child learn to navigate it without letting it overwhelm them. Offer your support and encouragement as they work through their feelings.

If you’re concerned that your child has depression or anxiety, make sure they see a mental health professional.

Begin Online Therapy for Kids and Teens with Anxiety in Illinois and now Florida.

If your child or teen is struggling with anxiety, including panic attacks, there is hope! Anxiety is highly treatable and online anxiety treatment at Briefly Counseling can help.Photo of a teen's right hand writing in a notebook on a wooden desk with a computer and keyboard in front of her along with a cup of tea on a coaster to her right. Photo could represent an online therapy appointment for the treatment of teen anxiety with a solution focused brief therapist.

Using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, I help kids and teens reduce their anxiety and build resilience so they can become a happier, more confident version of themselves.

And kids love being able to receive counseling from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Studies have consistently proven that online therapy delivers equal results to in-office counseling.

As an experienced and caring therapist, I love providing counseling for anxiety. To start your child’s counseling journey, call me at 224-236-2296 or email to schedule a FREE 20-minute consultation.

Helena Madsen, MA, LCPC is the founder of Briefly Counseling. I specialize in providing online short-term anxiety treatment for kids and teens ages 7 – 18 as well as Christian counseling.

Whether you’re on the North Shore, in Naperville, Chicago, Champaign, Barrington, Libertyville, Glenview, or downstate Illinois, I can help.

And effective 2024, I am now licensed in Florida! For parents in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Destin, Crestview, Coral Gables, Weston, Parkland, Naples, Marco Island, and Pinecrest, I have immediate openings.

Schedule your appointment or consultation today. I look forward to working with your child to quickly and effectively help them in activating their strengths, resources, and resilience, in order to live with confidence and hope.

Source: “Text Anxiety.” American Test Anxieties Association. Web. 25 Apr