It’s always impressive when an athlete has to make that last, game-winning play and they stay calm under pressure. Even those of us who aren’t athletes, whether we’re adults or children, feel pressure sometimes.

How do we help our kids handle pressure before a big game, band performance or test?

Here are three ways to deal with pressure:

1. Notice our thoughts.

When we’re under pressure, our mind can have negative thoughts such as, “I’m going to fail,” “I’m not good enough,” or “Everyone’s going to laugh at me.”

We have to notice those thoughts and try to talk back to them. Become a “thought detective” and think about what evidence you have that your negative thoughts are not true. Ask yourself, “Have I been successful before?” “How have I handled failure before?” Think about how much you have practiced and how you are ready for the upcoming challenge. See additional advice on how to push back against negative self-talk. 


2. Practice mindfulness.

When we’re in our head and thinking too much about the future or too much about the past, it can create a lot of pressure and cause us to freeze or not want to do something. In this case, we need to bring ourselves to the present moment. Notice your surroundings, what’s going on around you, what’s going on in your body…focus on the now. Check out these tips on practicing mindfulness.


3. Relax our body.

When feeling pressure, our muscles can get tense and our breathing and heartbeat can feel really fast. This happens automatically, without our control. We need to do things to help slow down and relax our body so we can perform better.