Test Anxiety..How to Help Your Child Manage

Updated: Feb 7, 2019


Frequently I am asked, "what can I do to help my child manage their anxiety during test taking?" If we look at anxiety in terms of self regulation, we are talking about your child having a red engine. A red engine is when we are feeling scared, anxious, out of control, and having a hard time thinking. People who are in a red engine also have trouble accessing all those 'files' of information in their brain (not sure what I mean by 'files'? watch this video to learn more). Taking a test when a person is in a red engine is not a good idea.

To help your child, we need to find a way to transition them from a red engine to a green, or just right engine, so they can do their best on the test. Often times, hard muscle work, rhythmical movement and mouth work prove to be very helpful. We are also finding that mindfulness is another helpful tool. Below you will find a list of strategies to consider when your kiddo has a test coming up. Go through them and pick a few that you think might work for your child.

These activities can be done individually at home or as a whole class before a testing period.

  • Deep breathing- smell the roses and blow out the candles. Remember to breathe slowly!

  • Reset button- take your index finger, press your lip right under your nose, and breathe in slowly and deeply. Repeat several times.

  • Trace the outline of your ear several times and then firmly squeeze your ear at the ear pad and up to the top of the ear.

  • Tap the top of your head with your fingertips, then move to tapping your eyebrows, under eyes, under chin, on collarbone, on wrist, all while saying positive statements.

  • Stretch- standing with legs shoulder width apart reach right arm overhead and lean to the left, now switch arms and lean to the right, repeat. Place one hand on top of the other and reach up overhead, stretching to the ceiling. Standing with one hand on hip, turn head to the right and then to the left, repeat several times.

  • Provide bubble gum to chew while taking test. The rhythmical motion helps the brain organizing and process the questions and information.

  • Do wall pushups in the hall.

  • Run a lap on the track or around the block.

  • Drinking from a water bottle during testing is a great way to get muscle work for the mouth.

  • Listen to classical music with predictable rhythms.

Individual strategies

  • Strike a warrior pose and talk to self- I am smart, I can do this, I have the answers, etc.

  • Visualize favorite place or thing while concentrating on breathing slowly.

  • Write your worries about the test on a piece of paper and then throw it away.

  • Identify 10 positive things about yourself.

Give some of these a try and let me know what works!


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5655 Peachtree Parkway Norcross, GA 30092 Suite 117

photography by Lydia Chang