Five Ways Parents Add to Test Stress

Is your kid under pressure? Let me answer that for you…yes!Teenage Daughter Arguing With Mother on Porch

With fall comes test season and test stress. Kids feel an enormous amount of pressure to do well on their standardized tests. And it’s warranted – a high test score can make the difference between them getting into their top-choice school or not and even result in more financial aid to help pay for it.

But as parents, the last thing we need to do is add to the test stress. Here are five things that parents unintentionally do that can add to our child’s stress:

  1. Being overly involved. Helping your child prep for the SAT by enrolling them in a course, finding a tutor or going over test strategy with them is smart and helpful. But micromanaging their studying, or asking over and over if they’re ready, can lead to shut down. Let your child lead with how much help they want.
  2. Making them feel like their score is the end of the world. This is such a hard one because their score is important. But they know that. So repeatedly focusing on how important this is for their future is just going to make them more stressed out. Don’t act like it doesn’t matter at all, but try to put it in perspective.
  3. Dismissing their worries. Sometimes teens just need to vent. If they are feeling overloaded with their class work and activities, piling testing on top can be the last straw. You can offer suggestions to help them balance, but lots of times, they just want to talk about how stressed they are. Help them see the bigger picture without telling them it doesn’t matter. They know it does!
  4. Comparing them to … anyone. Older siblings, cousins and friends may have already gone through their testing days successfully with brag-worthy scores. That’s great. Be happy for them, but try not to compare your child to their successes. Your child will prep and find their own way through this time.
  5. Testing them on test day. This is a big no, no.  The time to prep has passed.  What our kids need most on test day is a great breakfast, a stress-free ride to the exam and a bag packed with their test essentials—photo ID, #2 pencils, a good eraser,  charged (and approved) calculator and a healthy snack are all approved for the SAT® and the ACT.

Remember that you can help set the mood around test day!  A stress-free morning and a big hug go a long way. What do you do in your house to de-stress before a big test?

*SAT is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse,

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