Son is stressed before a basketball tournament? Normal. Before an oral presentation? Normal. Before an exam? Normal. His nervousness is even beneficial because it stimulates him.
Clammy palms and butterflies in the stomach usually disappear soon after the stressful event begins.
On the other hand, when the symptoms of stress take on disproportionate measures (vomiting, insomnia, eating disorders, lack of concentration) and no longer leave your child, we speak of performance anxiety. And that's not normal!
Recognize the signs
In addition to the physical manifestations, other signs may alert you:
- Excessive perfectionism: “I stammered three times during my oral. I could have done better. »
- Constant dissatisfaction with his efforts: “I should have studied more. »
- Lack of self-confidence: “I suck. »
- Fear of failing or undertaking a project with uncertain success: “I don’t want to do karate. The others will be better than me. »
Understanding the causes
Often performance anxiety starts very young, before 5-6year. The child is more likely to develop this problem if:
- His parents have been very demanding of him since he was little;
- His parents do not tolerate mistakes, either for themselves or for others;
- The child receives praise and compliments for everything he does;
- He can't stand failure.
A child who suffers from performance anxiety is not happy, be sure. In the long term, this permanent malaise could cause him a lot of harm, both in his personal and professional life. That's why you must act now to free him.
Your love doesn't depend on his gradesReassure him: no matter his grades, you will always love him. Explain to him that what is important is the effort he puts in.
Change your own behaviorIf you take great pride in working 60 hours a week, being the top salesperson in your company for 6 months and to constantly improve your running time, imagine the message you are sending to your child. It is normal for him to reproduce your behavior: you are his model. He will be afraid of disappointing you if he does not perform as well as you.
Helping your child will therefore require a double effort: to calm his perfectionist impulses… and yours. Learn together to do things just for fun. It's so much more fun!
You are an excellent cook, but a poor gardener. Does your kid love you less because you can't grow tomatoes? No. So explain to him that it's the same for him. Tell him that you love him for his strengths and qualities, but that his weaknesses do not alter your love in any way.
If you notice that your efforts are not bearing fruit and your child is still suffering from performance anxiety, consult the school staff, a professional at your CLSC or a psychologist without delay.