ASK THE EXPERT: Exam Anxiety in Kids


young girl sitting at a desk with her chin in her hands and a sad look on her face

Terri: Hi there, everyone! Today, we have Dominique Olivier, our parenting coach, with us once again to discuss a common issue that often keeps parents on their toes - exam anxiety in kids. Dominique, could you first explain to us what exam anxiety in kids looks like?

Dominique: Hi Terri. Sure....exam anxiety in children can show up in a few different ways. They might complain of physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, or restlessness. Or you could notice irritability, mood swings, and avoidance behavior. Their anxiety about an upcoming exam can also disrupt the way they're sleeping and eating. I'm sure most of us remember that feeling from when we were young, or even as an adult if we're having to perform in some way, or have a significant event coming up!

Terri: Absolutely, and those symptoms sound really similar to anxiety in adults. Are there any common misconceptions or unhelpful reactions parents might have towards exam anxiety?

Dominique: Unfortunately, yes. Often, parents dismiss their child's feelings when they're trying to help them feel better, telling them, "It's just a test, there's no need to worry," or they might even pile on the pressure, saying things like, "You need to do well." Both approaches can inadvertently invalidate a child's feelings and heighten their anxiety. But our children's feelings are always valid and dismissing them doesn't help the child. We need to learn to "sit" with their feelings, as uncomfortable as they might make us. When we do that we actually model a better way to cope for them...which is the willingness to be present with something that feels emotionally hard. Instead of rushing to “fix” things, we can create a supportive environment where they can express their feelings freely.

Terri: Oh wow, that feels like a vital point. I think so often we as parents just want to help, to run in and take away the thing that is causing our kid to struggle. But I can see how that would actually cause more anxiety in some ways. And I'm imagining being a kid with anxiety about an upcoming exam and how comforting it would be to have my parent just calmly BE with me in that fear and let me express all the worries I have, rather than telling me not to worry. 

Dominique: Exactly. It's no different for adults really...if you are concerned about something and you want to share it with your partner, you definitely don't want them to shut you down and tell you NOT to worry. You want them to hear you out, to stay calm and focused and encourage you to find your way through with their supportive presence. 

Terri: Yep, that's exactly right. Often I will find my inner resources and answers to my issue just by having someone allow me to talk freely about it in a really calm and supportive way, so I really get that. OK, so, we've established that exam anxiety is a valid concern for many children, and we as parents should respect that. Now, what about ways to help them cope? Obviously I'm a big fan of hypnotherapy being used for this, could you tell us a little more about that, and why it's so effective for this topic in particular?

Dominique: Of course. Hypnotherapy can be a powerful tool in managing exam anxiety. In a state of deep relaxation, children are more receptive to positive suggestions and affirmations. This approach helps them understand and manage their anxiety, build confidence, and develop effective study habits, all without dismissing their valid concerns. 

Terri: So, in the case of exam anxiety, hypnotherapy could help children develop healthier perspectives towards exams and their own capabilities?

Dominique: Exactly. Hypnotherapy empowers children to shift their focus from fear of failure to the enjoyment of learning and self-improvement.

Terri: Sounds like a positive and empowering approach. If parents want to explore hypnotherapy for their children's exam anxiety, what would you recommend?

Dominique: Well, they could start with the Clear Minds 'Hypnotherapy for Exam Anxiety' session. This session is designed to help children relax and refocus, boosting their confidence as they face their exams.

Terri: Excellent. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us today, Dominique!

Dominique: My pleasure, Terri! And remember, as parents, our role is to support our children in their journey, not to control their destination.


If your child is grappling with exam anxiety, consider trying the Clear Minds 'Hypnotherapy for Exam Anxiety' session. It's available as part of the Children's Wellbeing Essentials package.

The cover of Children's Essentials Hypnotherapy Package

Dominique Olivier is an Essential Oils Expert, Parenting Coach, and Kid's Yoga Teacher. Her mission is to empower parents with the tools to nurture their children's emotional  children's emotional health. She lives in South Africa with her husband and 8-year-old son.

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Children's Wellbeing Essentials Package Hypnotherapy (10 Sessions)