Anxiety

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    AUCLA Health answered
    If you detect anxiety from your child about going to the doctor, encourage him or her to tell you about the fears. Then, address their concerns using age-appropriate language. “In the exam room, children can be quite sensitive to their parents’ emotions. Having a calm, positive, reassuring attitude can reduce your child’s anxiety,” advises Carlos Lerner, M.D., medical director, Children’s Health Center, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.
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    AUCLA Health answered
    School-related anxiety in children consists of an unpleasant sense of apprehension that can be accompanied by stomachaches, headaches and restlessness. For most children, the discomfort dissipates within a couple of weeks as they become reaccustomed to the demands of school.

    Symptoms of serious school-related anxiety vary from child to child but may include fearful or negative attitudes about school, an inability to complete homework or schoolwork, feigning illness to avoid going to school and unusual amounts of tearfulness, sleeplessness, irritability or anger.

    “Most, if not all, kids are going to experience some level of anxiety or uncertainty about returning to school because it’s something new,” says John Piacentini, Ph.D., director of the Child, OCD, Anxiety and Tic Disorders Program at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA. “While many will be able to get through it just fine, there is a proportion of kids who are going to have more difficulty.”
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    AUCLA Health answered

    Children with school-related anxiety often improve when parents take the time to talk to them about their feelings, encourage helpful routines that reduce stress and ensure they have a healthy balance of physical activity and sleep.

    If a child’s symptoms persist or worsen to the point that the anxiety interferes with social or school activities, a consultation with a mental health professional may be advised, says John Piacentini, Ph.D., director of the Child, OCD, Anxiety and Tic Disorders Program at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA.

    Tips to help reduce your child's school-related anxiety:

    • Make sure your child eats well, has regular physical activity and gets enough sleep.
    • Avoid caffeine.
    • Help your child develop good coping strategies by touring the new school or meeting his or her teacher before school starts.
    • Allow time to unwind before bedtime by limiting stimulating activities.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered
    While it is normal for kids to be anxious before a test, if anxiety signs persist, increase, or interfere with your child's school performance or life, then it is time to seek help. Talk with your child's teacher to discuss his progress, and ensure that he is in the right academic placement and whether she advises a tutor. If anxiety mounts or your child continues to struggle then please seek the counsel of a mental health professional. Use the Rule of "Too": Whenever the problem lasts TOO long (at least every day for two weeks), seeps into TOO many areas of your child's life (affects not only school, but also your relationship with your child, his social life or health), and your child's behavior change is TOO different from "his typical" it's time to talk to your doctor.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered
    During a relaxed time, help your child evaluate his test performance and results. Questions might include: "Did you feel any differently this time?" "What part of the test was the easiest? The most difficult?" What things helped that you want to remember to try again?" The trick is to help your child recognize what works so he can apply those same strategies again to the next test. You can also determine what still needs correcting or how to form a better test-taking plan.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered
    Here are things parents can do after those big tests to reduce kid anxiety and even increase those scores.
    • Review test performance. During a relaxed time, help your child evaluate his test performance and results. Questions might include: "Did you feel any differently this time?" "What part of the test was the easiest? The most difficult?" What things helped that you want to remember to try again?" The trick is to help your child recognize what works so he can apply those same strategies again to the next test. You can also determine what still needs correcting or how to form a better test-taking plan.
    • Monitor the situation. While it is normal for kids to be anxious before a test, if anxiety signs persist, increase, or interfere with your child's school performance or life, then it is time to seek help. Talk with your child's teacher to discuss his progress, and ensure that he is in the right academic placement and whether she advises a tutor. If anxiety mounts or your child continues to struggle then please seek the counsel of a mental health professional. Use the Rule of "Too": Whenever the problem lasts TOO long (at least every day for two weeks), seeps into TOO many areas of your child's life (affects not only school, but also your relationship with your child, his social life or health), and your child's behavior change is TOO different from "his typical," it's time to talk to your doctor.
    • Stay cool and be accepting. A big kid worry is, "I hope I didn't let my parents down" so reaffirm your unconditional love -- regardless of that score. Research shows that a warm, accepting parenting style with realistic expectations helps decrease kids' test anxiety.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered
    Here are things parents can do during those big tests to reduce kid anxiety and even increase those scores.
    • Hold your tongue! This is not the time to review nor tell your child "you should have studied." Better to keep things calm -- including yourself! You want your child to feel relaxed and not pick up any clues from you. (FYI: Teens say a big cause of their stress is not school-related but "us-related.") Our "too high" and unrealistic expectations for their success is stressing them out and causing them to choke on those tests. Keep cool!
    • Ensure sleep. Countless studies find a significant correlation between kids' sleep and test performance. For instance, fourth and sixth graders who got on average 31 minutes less sleep each night performed significantly less on achievement-tests. A study of over 7000 high school students found that teens who received As average about 15 more minutes sleep than the B students, who in turn averaged 11 more minutes than the Cs and the Cs had ten more minutes than the Ds. The biggest sleep disturbers: computers, cell phones, texting and TV. Unplug your kid at least 30 minutes before sleep. Also, watch out for caffeinated or energy drinks. Teens are taking them to stay up later to study -- but then have a harder time sleeping.
    • Serve brain food for breakfast. Don't let your child skip breakfast. Studies show that a breakfast rich in whole-grain cereals along with a lean protein such as eggs is proven to help maintain your child's energy and keep him more alert during that test.
    • Use anxiety-reducers. Research shows that using a relaxation strategy can reduce test anxiety. Here are possibilities to teach your child a few weeks before the big test then do on the morning of the test:

    Self-talk: Repeat a relaxing phrase silently such as: "It's only a test." "I don't have to be perfect." Or "I'll worry later, but I'm going to focus on the test now."

    Deep breathing: Take a three by three: Breathe in slowly to a count of three then exhale slowly to a count of three. Repeat the deep breathing strategy at least three times.

    Visualize a calm scene: Close your eyes and imagine a calm peaceful place (a park, beach, tree house) that the child has experienced and brings a smile to his face.

    Write your anxiety away. The morning of the test, encourage your child to take 5-10 minutes to write all his concerns about the test ("I'll forget the answers...I'll flunk....I won't have enough time") on paper.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered
    There are simple skills that help improve test performance as well as reduce kids' test anxiety. Online programs and books are now available to help kids learn ways to be effective (and calmer) test takers. Start by identifying your child's current study habits. Then think of one or two simple solutions to begin helping your child improve his test-taking skills. For instance: Write each vocabulary word on a flash card so he can review them at his brother's soccer practice. Hire a tutor if necessary. Here are few tips you can teach your child:
    • Ask questions. If you are unsure of the question, raise your hand to get clarification.
    • Quickly flip through. Get an instant gauge as to the type of questions and test length.
    • Answer what you know. Fill in the questions you know right away so you don't forget.
    • Check answers. Never turn in a test without first checking to make sure no questions have been skipped. Always proofread your answers if you have time.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered
    Here are some test anxiety reducers:
    Adopt positive thoughts. Negative thoughts about performance can affect test taking. Sian Beilock's research at the University of Chicago found teaching kids to reframe negative feelings about test taking can impact test scores. So teach your child one of these techniques (and do teach in advance...not the morning of the test!) Challenge each negative idea by finding evidence that it's not always true.
    Child: "I always do badly on tests." You: "Practicing your flash cards boosted your spelling grade on Friday."
    Child: "I won't remember anything." You: "Eating a good breakfast seemed to sure help improve your memory for your last math test." Reframe negative thoughts. Teach your child to erase "bad thoughts" with positive ones about test taking. Instead of: "I hate taking tests." Say: "I'm really psyched up for this test. Shift stress views. Your child may get sweaty palms or a pounding heart before taking a test but remind him that he can get those same signs from enjoyable experiences like riding a tilt-a-whirl or watching a close baseball game.
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    AMichele Borba, Psychology, answered
    Here are signs of test anxiety to watch for in your child or teen. Key is to helping your child recognize those signs so he can tune in to them himself and learn ways to reduce them before they become overwhelming.
    • Physical signs: Butterflies, cold or clammy hands, headache, nausea, feels faint, hot or cold or light-headed, raised heart rate, perspiration, dry mouth
    • Emotional signs: Feels helpless and pessimistic, wants to cry, fears failure
    • Cognitive signs: Forgets what he learned, more trouble than usual concentrating and thinking about test items, preoccupied with negative thoughts about test performance