Martial Arts Advantage conducts testing and graduation for our students at the end of every session (approximately 8 weeks.) Setting goals and working to achieve them is a big part of the martial arts journey and helps our students gain confidence, and perseverance. Students look forward to reaching a new belt level and love wearing their belt and all the stripes and stars they earn along the way. While is it meant to be a very exciting and positive experience, we know that there are many students who get nervous about testing and feel doubts. Here are some tips on how to minimize your child’s anxiety if they are showing nerves or feeling reluctant to test because of their fears.
- Have a positive mantra and repeat it often. Here at MAA we use the YES. I CAN! Every day in every class. We use it often during class and challenge the kiddos to remember it when they exhibit doubt when trying something new. You can use this one at home too. Or maybe you have one of your own. Whatever works to get your child focus on the positive possibility of success and off the fear of failure is a great way to prepare them to move forward confidently. Change the ”I will fail” mindset to “I will Succeed!”
- While building up their confidence we also need to remove the fear of failure. Many of the greatest of the greats have failed multiple times before succeeding. If you have some of these stories of your own to share, please share them. Knowing mom or dad weren’t always the awesome pillar of success they know now will help them see the future of meeting their own goals. The old adage “if at first you don’t succeed…” is more than a saying. It is truth. Let them know it is ok not to pass. Trying is the important thing. You fail 100% of the things you don’t even try for!
- One of the best ways to beat the anxiety of the testing is to practice. Go over with your child what is going to be on the test, in the order it will happen. Then practice the test. Use the same timing that will be done in the live testing. For example, if they are going to be doing a fit test and the goal is to do 50 push-ups, then practice 50 or push beyond the testing minimum and do 60. The practice shows your child in real experience – they CAN DO IT!
- Teach your child how to do some simple breathing and visualization exercises to help manage their mind (that may be running away with doubts and fears.) Simple slow inhale and exhale breathing with eyes closed and thinking positive thoughts is a great way to slow down their heart rate and get them in a good place to begin the test. Another thing that really works well is to have them close their eyes and visualize seeing themselves after they have passed the test. In the case of our martial arts testing, ask them what new color belt they will be wearing? Which instructor will be tying it on them? Which of their friends and classmates will be there with them? Thinking beyond the moment is a good way to settle the anxiety and start to feel some of the joy that is to come.
- The day of the test we can help keep the jitters down by arriving early and prepared. Have their uniform ready for them the night before, help them put it on neatly so they don’t have to struggle with belt tying when the get to the studio. Have them eat a good snack and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated before they begin. Be sure to have any advance paperwork or registration forms done in advance too.
These are just a few suggestions we have found helpful. You may have some of your own to help with your child’s or your own test anxiety. If you do, please make a comment below and share your ideas and tips with our community of parents and families! It does, in fact, take a village, right?