How parents and kids can help manage test stress

Laura Frie is a therapist with the Psychological Associates of PA in York and works with kids of all ages with stress-related issues. She has some ideas for both students and parents to help alleviate the stress and anxiety students feel when faced with taking standardized tests.

“Stress, worry, anxiety take root in the future, or the past,” Frie says. “When you’re anticipating something in the future, not knowing what it will be like or how hard it will be. Or, remembering taking them last year and how difficult they were. These feelings don’t take hold in the present because you can do something about it.”

  1. Acknowledge, with kindness, how you feel in the
    moment, and, acknowledge that everybody might
    be feeling the same way.
  1. Take stock and take action. What can you do
    right now? Be realistic, and hold yourself kindly
    accountable. You can’t control the content of the
    PSSAs, but you can control studying the practice
    tests and materials that your teacher provides.
    You can control getting a good night sleep the night
    before, and eating a good breakfast the morning of.
  1. You are only able to do your best. But be honest
    about it, and put your best into it.

Frie says parents also can help their children through these anxious periods.

“Parents can help their kids sort out where their power lies,” Frie says. “Explain to them that everybody gets stressed. If they have preview days or a parents/kids night, make sure they attend and explain to them, ‘This is what it might look like and this is what it might feel like.’ Helping your child get acclimated will take anxiety out of the future and they’ll feel more grounded in the present. And remind them to ‘just be the best you can be.’”

Performance Anxiety: Handling the stress of the standardized test

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