photo of a stressed boy

Standardized testing is starting younger and younger. The ISEE and SSAT offer Elementary Level tests, for students entering 4th and 5th grade, which means our children are sometimes taking these tests before they reach double-digits. And standardized testing does not end there – students take yearly, statewide benchmark tests to gauge their progress, they sit for the PSAT sophomore and junior year (sometimes even freshman year), and they tackle the SAT or ACT junior and senior year.

With all this testing, inordinate amounts of stress are being placed on children at early ages, and unfortunately, they are not given much of a breather once the process begins. Below are some signs of stress to look out for in your kids:

  • Decreased appetite or chances in eating habits
  • Headaches, neck aches, and backaches
  • Nightmares, trouble sleeping
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent colds
  • Upset stomach or stomach pain

In order to keep your students happy, healthy, and performing at their best, here are some things you can do, as a parent, educator, or guidance counselor, to help them minimize and manage their stress:

  • Help them take a break from the chaos
  • Make sure they get more sleep
  • Talk to them about their stresses
  • Practice relaxation techniques together
  • Encourage physical activity (or: do together!)
  • Model coping strategies for them
  • Do not criticize
  • Limit technology
  • Help them plan out their commitments and assignments