What is test anxiety?
Exam anxiety is an intense state of anxiety that prevents the previously learned knowledge from being remembered and used during the exam, and that results in the child/adolescent not being able to fully use their current capacity.
It is a type of anxiety caused by the meanings attributed to the exam and success by the young person or family, or by their teachers, the importance given to the achievements to be obtained through the exam, expectations about the future and uncertainty.
This year, unlike previous years, test anxiety seems to have increased due to the long break in education, the expectations for changes in the examination and education system, and the uncertainty about the future.
How do we recognize test anxiety?
Your child may experience restlessness, anxiety, restlessness, distress, fear of failure, reluctance to work, tremors in the hands, trembling in the voice, sweating, palpitation, shortness of breath, dry mouth, feeling of anxiety, disturbances in sleep patterns and appetite, difficulty in focusing and maintaining attention, especially during the exam. If he is experiencing a decrease in self-confidence, stomach and headache symptoms together, he is most likely experiencing test anxiety.
With these complaints, there may be a significant decrease in your child’s success. He or she may lose interest in studying, avoid studying, postpone it all the time, refuse to talk about it or pass it off with misleading information about it.
How do we deal with test anxiety?
First of all, it would be a good start to express to your child that you notice this anxiety and that you understand it. Thus, you will have started the conversation on this subject and given the opportunity to express himself. It would be good to talk about what the exam means, what the meaning of the exam is. In the meantime, it will be very useful to review whether you reflect your own anxieties and expectations about the exam to him, to see the exam as a tool rather than an end, and to convey this message.
There are many points that you can support your child in coping with test anxiety. For example, you can help him change his study habits and attitudes towards the exam. In order to manage time well, you can suggest that he plan daily activities, pay attention to nutrition and sleep patterns. While giving these suggestions, you should be careful to comply with his limits, give most of the responsibility to him, be both attentive and realistic, and support peer relations.
When should you seek psychiatric help?
If the anxiety significantly affects your child’s daily activities and relationships, if both you and your child have difficulties in coping with anxiety, if the interaction between you is impaired, if your child repeats inappropriate coping ways, if angry behaviors or signs of introversion occur, you should seek psychiatric support.
Whatever you can do or think, start.
Courage has genius, power, and magic. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
exp. Dr. Aybuke Tugce Mustan
Child and Youth Psychiatrist & Psychotherapist