Counselor offers insights into helping students with test anxiety

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Test anxiety is more common than you may think

When it comes to test time, it’s not unusual for students to be nervous or get stressed at time, but for some students, the anxiety around tests is real.

“Test anxiety is very significant in schools right now,” said Lauren Roberts, a licensed counselor who helps local kids who struggle with anxiety around school and tests. “Somatic symptoms, physiological symptoms, physical symptoms are often shown up in children with anxiety in general, but we do see that common with test anxiety.”

By somatic symptoms, Roberts is referring to headaches, stomach aches, and nausea.

“One thing I always work with is the pediatrician or a psychiatrist to make sure we are ruling out any physical symptoms,” she said. “A lot of time it is solely anxiety showing up through those symptoms.”

Local teachers tell me test anxiety is something they’re seeing with students and that the child may be able to answer questions correctly verbally, but they freeze up when it’s test time.

“With test anxiety, a lot of children I see will avoid going to school, they will run out of time on tests, they also maybe have some avoidance issues with going up to their teachers and advocating for themselves,” she explained.

Roberts says parents can start by listening and validating their child’s feelings.

“With test anxiety, saying, ‘Okay, if you need to speak to your teacher, I’m here to help. I think you can do it on your own, but no worries, I’ll be by your side. I’m sure your teacher would be understanding. And so we want to validate rather than saying, ‘Okay, just talk to your teacher’,” she said.

Roberts says test anxiety isn’t the child’s fault and that often times, there’s not a direct cause to anxiety. However, students with test anxiety can be helped through communication, and getting professional treatment is also an option.

To contact Roberts about counseling, click here:

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