Performance Anxiety can be experienced differently by every child, but these strategies for managing anxiety may be helpful. You can talk these through together with your child, then encourage your child to try a few to see what works best for him.
Deep breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) can reduce anxiety and help kids feel more relaxed. They can practice at home, on the way to games, in the classroom or at the the carnival
Memorize a cue word or mantra.
Sometimes anxiety stems from negative self-talk. Kids think “I can’t do this,” “I’m scared”, “I might fail.” A mantra is a positive phrase that your child can use to replace those negative ones. Help your child come up with a phrase that means something to her/him, like “I can do this”, “I’m ready” or “I got this.” Your child can repeat this phrase any time they hear the “can’t-do” voice in her/his head.
Encourage your child to close their eyes and picture themselves being successful or confident or calm. This takes minutes and can build confidence
Practice without moving.
Rehearsal through writing out a plan, drawing a picture or mental rehearsal can make a big difference too. This allows your child to practice in the absence of game/exam-like conditions and feel calm and confident.
Set a goal.
Talk to your child about what he/she hopes to achieve and set realistic goals – focused on controlling the process not the outcome. Focusing on process steps that may take some of the pressure off of the actual event.
Jodii Macguire is the Director and psychology at Think! Performance Psychology. If you or someone you know is dealing with performance anxiety and you would like more info, find that here.
More from Jodii:
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- How to help your kids prepare for exams