Written by: Nanny Secours
Before taking an exam, performing on stage or playing an important hockey game, it is normal for a child to experience a bit of fright. Such nervousness is beneficial since it stimulates him into action. Although the most commonly observed signs of fright normally fade away moments before the event starts, symptoms can, however, intensify (vomiting, tremor, recurring stomach aches, sleep disturbances, disordered eating, difficulty concentrating, etc.) or just remain; this may be called “performance anxiety.” When this state of uneasiness kicks in, children often anticipate events negatively. Such a stress can lead to long-term consequences on the child’s social and academic life, as well as on his self-esteem and mental health.
Performance anxiety usually appears as children enter school for the first time; this is the time when they begin to compare themselves with others and undergo assessment from their teachers. Several factors influence the child’s capacity to handle this new pressure. His personality, his potential to resolve problems, his ability to manage and express his emotions, his past experiences, his parents’ attitude and disciplinary style, the incidences of sibling rivalry, the demands of his own environment and the extent of his social network, will determine (among other things) the impact stress will have on his life.
If necessary, do not hesitate to contact a family coach (near you) listed in Nanny Secour’s directory (French only). This site will offer you tailor-made coping strategies to improve your child’s stress-management skills.
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