How Kids Can De-Stress Before A Test

Does your child leave home well-prepared for a test but still returns with a poor grade?  He may have studied for several days making sure he knows the content, but once it gets closer to the test day, the anxiety sets in.  He starts to worry, looses sleep and dreads going to school. 

Stress is common among many children when it comes to test taking.  When children are under stress it inhibits their ability to concentrate and focus.  Think of stress as a powerful guest of wind and you’re using all of your energy to make sure it doesn’t blow you away.  You’re unable to concentrate on anything else because the wind consumes all your energy and attention.  Stress was designed to be powerful and for good reason.  The right amounts of stress helps athletes train and perform well; it can pump us up for a great performance.  But when stress takes over your child’s ability to be attentive, his ability to evaluate, judge and make decisions is negatively affected. 

One great way to help relieve test anxiety and improve performance is to write.  Anxious students who wrote about their fears right before taking a test outperformed anxious students who did nothing at all.   According to a University of Chicago study, by writing down the negative emotions a child is experiencing, it frees up a part of the brain known as working memory.  This area of the brain stores relevant information needed to perform a task.  By clearing the stress clutter, it allows kids more power to focus and ace that test.  So, by simply allowing a child a few minutes to write about their fears and worries over taking a test was key to improved test performance among anxious students.

The next time you see your child leave for school stressed, consider asking his teacher to allow 10 minutes of journaling before a test.  She’ll most likely she improved test scores throughout the entire class.  Consider it a win-win for everyone.

For more tips on how to handle stress and anxiety associated with back to school, please join co-hosts Debbie Gockman ( and Bobbi Anderson (  On Friday, September 13th at 8 PM/EST on Life Coach Chat Channel.