What To Say To Your Child Before A Test

You got kids in school and you’re
wondering what to say to your child before a test. There’s some things that
will help and some surprising things that might not. A few words about test
anxiety. First and then I’ll share with you 5 specific things that you can
say to your child before a test. And it’ll make a whole lot more sense as we
understand what test anxiety is all about. It makes sense that people get
nervous, stressed out, anxious before something big happens especially if it’s
something important. There was a TED talk recently by Kelly McGonigal who
apologized on behalf of our entire industry and mental health and
psychology for the bad reputation that we have created for stress. It seems like
a bad thing, right? Actually the research shows that there is an optimal level of
stress that actually increases performance. When I say optimal, I mean if
it’s less than that, we probably aren’t geared up enough to step up and perform.
If it’s too high, we get paralyzed and frozen up by it. There’s some level
between too low and too high that would be optimal. And that stress actually
increases performance. There was a study recently that presented this question to
a group of adults. They asked if you are feeling nervous and upset about
something, is it better to (A) try to calm down or (B) trying to feel excited. 91% of
the respondents to that question said it’s better to try to calm down. Now, you
may have thought the same thing. So did I, actually. At one point in my
career. Given what we know about stress in the
optimal level of stress, the better answer to that question is try to feel
excited. Physiologically, being stressed out and being excited are very, very
similar. There are similar chemicals involved.
There are some similar thought processes. But the interpretation of those feelings
is drastically different. Part of the problem with trying to calm down? It’s
like try not to think about grapefruit for example. As I say that to you, you
can’t even help but think about grapefruit because I suggested it to you.
Trying to calm down is similar or trying to go to sleep. It makes it harder to do.
So, it’s counterproductive and that’s something that we don’t want to say to
our children. Try to calm down. How does that sound to you as I say it? This
sometimes makes it worse because when you’re feeling stress or anxiety and
somebody tells you to calm down, it actually increases your stress and
anxiety. So we don’t want to get into that trap. Understanding now what we know
about test anxiety, we want to have an optimal level. Let’s say some things to
our kids that actually help before they go into a test situation. I promised you
5. Here’s number 1, you have prepared well. Yeah. You might not even agree with
that fully because they could have prepared better, right? Yes, that is always
true. It could always be better than it was. Instead of focusing on that, let’s
take the preparation that they have done and reinforce them with the idea that
they’ve got this. That they are prepared. That’s number 1. You have prepared well.
For number 2. This one’s a little bit longer but track this. Most people feel a
little nervous just before something important. Did you track that? Most people
feel a little nervous just before something important. What we’re doing is
helping our kids to learn what you already know about test anxiety. It’s
normal to feel this way. Your kid might not understand that. So we want to help
educate them about how their brain is operating. This will give them
reassurance and confidence that they’re not going crazy. I tell my clients
sometimes, “You’re not as crazy as you feel.” That’s because it’s normal to feel
those things given the context of what it is that you’re dealing with. It’s
normal. Doesn’t mean that you’re crazy. We want our kids to understand that too so
that it helps them to (Okay) understand what it is that they’re feeling. Here’s
the third thing that you can say to your kids before a test. It’s actually a
question. Can you feel the power up? Now, that’s going to catch their attention
isn’t it? Because they don’t expect it. Can you feel the power up? What we’re
doing is inviting our kids to tune into the feelings that they’re having in
their own body caused naturally by the chemicals that are actually preparing
their body to perform the tasks that they’re anticipating. After you ask the
question, can you feel the power up? Help them to understand that their body is
now preparing them to accomplish the task that they’re going to do in just a few
minutes or tomorrow that’s coming up for them soon. Tune in to the feelings that
indicate that your body is supporting you to do a good job on this test. Cool.
That helps them to reframe the experience that they’re having as
something that’s actually how them and supporting them. And remember,
the research shows that that’s exactly what’s happening. Their body is preparing
them to focus and perform and do their very best on this test. The fourth
message. You’ve got this. Conveying confidence. Based on what we’ve already
shared with them. You’ve got this. Remember number 1? You’ve prepared well.
You’ve got this. They don’t always feel like they’ve got
this. But their feelings can be misleading. So your confidence as a
parent is going to help to reassure them that they’ve got this. And then finally,
I’m taking us right back to our number 1 job as a parent. Here’s the fifth
message. I love you. They need to hear it. They need to feel it in some way. You
find whatever way makes the most sense for you to present that message to them.
Remember your job as a parent is to love them no matter what and even if. Knowing
that you love them helps them to feel supported and bolstered in this task
that they’re going to take on whether it’s a test or big game or a life event.
Whatever it is. Those are the messages that can help them to take this on in a
way that will produce the very best outcomes. Tell them Dr. Paul’s got their
back. I’m glad to be on your team. We’ve got lots more videos on the way. Make
sure you subscribe and I’ll see you tomorrow.

9 thoughts on “What To Say To Your Child Before A Test

  1. Fantastically on point!! Excellent top 5! As an educator, I totally agree!
    As a parent, thanks for reminding me unconditional love is the best gift I can give my child, every single day! That simple fact gets so easily lost on the To Do List of daily life.
    Next up… video on talking points if test results aren’t where they need to be.

  2. Dr. Paul I thought of #6! Encourage them to encourage another. Once we have boosted our children up and they have the advantage of having a supportive parent then we should point out how they can be helpers to someone in need of the same boost. Not all kids will get this from their parent and the children who do should be looking for ways to lift others up, recognizing the emotions of others and having empathy. This in turn boosts the confidence of the helper and increases self awareness and put our anxieties in perspective.

  3. Thank you so much for this video, it’s on time👌very useful as always.
    My daughter get very anxious before the test

  4. For studying and for decision making, could you please explain if stress (emotions) have a positive or negative impact? Thank you.

  5. I love that idea, "do you feel the power up? It may feel strange at first but this happens for most people before important events, your body is preparing you and making you ultra-focused."

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