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Help your kids be less anxious about tests

Child psychologist offers advice if your kids have trouble handling the pressure

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If your kids begin to feel anxious every time they have to take a test, there are some things parents can do to help them keep things in perspective. Dr. Kristen Eastman, a psychologist at Cleveland Clinic Children's, says untimed practice tests may do the trick.

"Sometimes removing the timed-factor is a good thing, initially, for those kids," said Eastman. "Taking those tests without the clock, even practicing it that way at home is often a good way to remove that component that adds that extra layer of pressure."

Eastman says initially removing the time limit allows your child to master the skills of test-taking. She says most kids who are anxious about taking tests typically fear the outcome, or being judged by a teacher or parent, so you'll need a test-taking action plan.

Eastman recommends finding ways to get your child to take a deep-breath and regain some control. She says practice tests can help a lot, or simply reminding them that they've been in similar situations and have done well. You should also focus on their strengths, or how hard they've prepared.

"So, if they can find a way to acknowledge the fear, acknowledge the negative, but also come up with a more positive way, a more balanced way to look at it, that always seems to help because suddenly they're able to reframe in their head and feel like they can conquer it," Eastman explained.

Eastman says reminding your children that as long as they try hard and prepare, you're ok with the outcome. She says this may help them to decompress and develop a more positive outlook.