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Pediatrician approved strategies to reduce test anxiety

NORFOLK, Va. - CHKD pediatrician Dr. Melissa Horton is sharing strategies to reduce your child's test anxiety.

"Whether your student struggles or soars academically, test anxiety is a common problem for children of all ages," she writes in her blog. "Fortunately, parents can help their children alleviate some of the stress."

Sleep

Dr. Horton says getting enough sleep is key.

"When children don’t get enough sleep, it can affect their entire day," she said.  "Not only could they doze off in the classroom, they can experience more anxiety than usual."

Dr. Horton points to recommendations from the American American Academy of Pediatrics, explaining that children ages 6 to 12 need 9 to 12 hours of sleep every night, while teens need 8 to 10 hours.

"Limiting screen time is important for good sleep," she shared. "The AAP recommends keeping all screens – TVs, tablets, computers, and cellphones – out of your child’s bedroom, especially at night. Make sure your child turns off all screens at least an hour before bedtime."

Breakfast

While it may be tempting to serve your kids their favorite sugary cereal on test day, Dr. Horton suggests it could work against them on test day.

"Sugary cereals are popular choices among kids, but they won’t keep hunger at bay for long when blood sugar levels drop," she explained. "Scrambled eggs or turkey bacon with multi-grain toast is an excellent choice for sustained levels of energy."

Review calming strategies

"Something as simple as practicing slow breaths before an exam can help a child calm down on their own," suggested Dr. Horton. "Many teachers recommend students complete the easiest questions first and go back to the harder ones later. Reading all instructions carefully and double-checking answers can also help students feel more confident during their exams."

You can read more of Dr. Horton's strategies to ease test anxiety on her blog.  She does urge parents who have more serious concerns about their children's test anxiety to talk to their pediatrician.

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