News at Cardon Children's Medical Center  

Mom to Mom: Putting Kids to the Test

Mary Parra, Mom to Mom Mary Parra, mother of four    

My daughter is one of those people who can walk into a classroom, sit down and take any test – multiple choice, fill in the blank, essay, timed or reading comprehension– and ace it. I don’t know where she gets it.

My son is more like me – he gets nervous just thinking about a test. He gets so worked up about the fact that he might not do well, that he actually doesn’t do well. Standardized tests are not a good measure of his intelligence. He is too nervous about taking the test that he cannot concentrate.

Test anxiety is a learned behavior. It can be caused by the association of grades and personal worth, or the link between bad grades and fear of not being accepted by family or friends, among other issues. Timed tests also can naturally cause anxiety, as a child might have fear of not being able to finish, even if he knows the material.

It is not necessarily true that students who are well prepared will not have test anxiety. Nor is it true that very intelligent kids will not experience test anxiety.

If your child starts to panic before a test, tension-relaxation exercises have been proven to be helpful. Relaxation techniques are most effective when they are used on a regular daily basis as a preventative measure, so it might help your child to go through some before taking a test. Of course, eating a good breakfast is crucial.

Positive self-talk can build confidence and decrease test anxiety. Instead of thinking things like, “I can’t do this,” or ”I am not good at this subject. I am not going to pass,” your child should try positive thoughts such as, “I prepared for this test. I will do the best I can,” or “I feel good about myself and my abilities. I am not going to worry about a hard question.”

There are different levels of test anxiety, and almost everyone experiences it at one time or another. Some kids might be able to overcome it, while others become so paralyzed by the anxiety that it affects their grades or career goals.

The good news is there are a lot of options out there to help these kids learn to be successful test takers. A friend of mine whose daughter struggles with test-taking anxiety has her daughter meet regularly with the school counselor. The counselor has given her many helpful techniques. There are also many books available to help your child.

Once your student has the right tools in place to gain control of his anxiety, his knowledge will shine through. 

When I make these muffins, they disappear immediately. They are sweet but pack plenty of fiber and vitamins to help your kids stay sharp.

Carrot Zucchini Muffins
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
3/4 firmly packed brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup skim milk
3 tablespoons oil (I substitute applesauce, measure-for-measure)
2 egg whites
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup shredded unpeeled zucchini (about 1 small)
Heat oven to 400. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray.
In la arge bowl, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; mix well.
In a small bowl, combine milk, oil and egg whites. Blend well. Add to dry ingredients all at once. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in carrots and zucchini just until blended. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake for 16-21 minutes.

Mom to Mom is a column written by Mary Parra, an Ahwatukee mother of four and a local journalist.

Cardon Children's Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road
Mesa, AZ 85202
(480) 412-KIDS (5437)
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