Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Pre-Test Stress

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My fifth-grade son is an A student and in honors classes. Lately, the teacher has explained he has been experiencing some anxiety and nervousness. When he takes a test he gets all the math procedures correct but makes careless errors. He is a very sensitive child and is very hard on himself. Are there exercises or things he can do to calm down when he's in situations that seem to overwhelm him? Would you recommend counseling?

A: Look for books that deal with stress in children and how to help them cope with it. Most of the books have directions for simple relaxation techniques children can use in times of stress, such as controlling their breathing or tensing and then relaxing groups of muscles. Your son could do the relaxation exercises just before taking (or even during) a test and no one would even realize what he was doing.

Talk with the school counselor. He may be able to give your son some individual time or include him in a small group on stress reduction. This is most likely a problem for other children in your son's honor classes as well, and the counselor may want to work with the entire class to teach them some stress management techniques.

More on: Expert Advice

Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks


Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

8 Easter Egg Decorating Ideas
Need some fun ideas for decorating Easter eggs with the kids? Look no further for colorful and cool designs!

7 Ways to Curb Kids' Exposure to Violence
American children are exposed to violence more often than you might think. Learn how to limit your child's exposure to violence and manage the mental health and behavioral effects it can cause.