The school year brings a lot of stress and pressure when starting a new academic year. Parents and students feel the hustle of starting a school year on the right foot, a clean slate with fresh new books and brand-new school supplies.

Most school-age children also feel the pressure to perform. Some students feel that having good grades in school or being the best in school creates a sense of value or a feeling of higher self-worth.

Students not only feel the pressure to perform academically but some also have the pressure to perform in sports. Performance anxiety can strike any child. Student-athletes can also feel the pressure to move up in their sports leagues. Most student-athletes also need certain grades to remain in their sport.

How can parents identify when their child is suffering from performance anxiety?
Before a test or sporting game, your child may be experiencing feelings of anxiety such as tummy aches, trouble breathing or feeling like it’s the end of the world. Parents can comfort their children by telling them positive words of encouragement to help them push through the anxiety. Working on breathwork can help stabilize your child’s anxiety.

How can parents help their child suffering from performance anxiety?
Parents and students can plan. Being prepared is very important to help your child feel ready for their test or game. Practice makes perfect, studying daily for a test, and letting your child practice their shots or partake in practices for their sport before the big game can also help.

Parents can also put unwanted pressure on their children. Children who typically bring home perfect grades feel like they have failed themselves and are afraid of failure when they show their parents an “average” grade or something less than perfect. Children emotionally beat themselves up over it. Some children go as far as imagining catastrophic scenarios of where they will end up if they don’t perform well in school.

Failure can be a good thing and part of a life lesson. Parents can use failure or a less-than-perfect grade to comfort their children with lessons learned from their failed experiences. For example, parents can discuss with their children how they can do better next time. Why did your child not achieve a mark or perform to the best of their abilities? Could something be done ahead of time, perhaps study a different way, ask the teacher for extra help, use a study guide, consult a tutor for that subject, and seek a one-on-one coaching session for their sport of practice? Both parents and students should remain positive when things don’t work out and communicate their feelings of distress and unhappiness related to performance anxiety.