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How to Help Your Child With Math Anxiety

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on August 18, 2021

If you often notice your child acting nervous when dealing with a math problem, they might have math anxiety. Math anxiety is a common problem for many. You might have experienced the same mental stress and anxiety at some point in your life when you were tasked to solve math problems. Your child is no different.

Symptoms of Math Anxiety

Math anxiety is a condition you can help your child identify and overcome. Concerning its symptoms, most experience the following:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Avoidance 
  • Poor performance
  • Lack of response 
  • Negative self talk
  • Not studying math regularly
  • Putting off homework till the last minute 
  • Memorizing instead of understanding math 

Causes of Math Anxiety

Some of the common causes of math anxiety include:

  • A fixed negative mindset. Your child might have a negative fixed mindset on how they have underperformed previously. A fixed negative mindset might not be helpful in the child's performance. They might lack the effort and motivation to improve because they believe they can't outdo themselves.
  • Test anxiety. If your child is a poor performer in math, they might be more anxious when test time rolls around. This anxiety is caused by how questions are evaluated and timed. These evaluations are what determine their math skills.
  • Lack of positive association to math. Before sending their child to school, most parents teach them how to read or write, but not necessarily math. Your child might develop an anxiety problem when they encounter the subject at school.‌

Other factors may also make your child develop math anxiety. These include:

  • Lack of self-confidence 
  • Teachers not engaging students
  • Poor teaching methods 
  • Ineffective learning practices ‌

How to Help Your Child Overcome Math Anxiety

There are several ways you can address your child's math problem. Here are some tips that might help.

  1. You're not alone. As a parent, you should understand that many children are affected by math anxiety. Your child is no different. 
  2. Practice math with your child regularly. Solving math problems often helps reduce anxiety. As a parent, encourage your child to solve math problems daily and do math homework early to avoid rushing to complete assignments. You also might consider engaging them in simple math tests, like calculating change when you go to a store. 
  3. Utilize resources. Several resources can help you teach your child how to solve math problems, and they begin with you. Working on math problems with your child, for example, might help them to solve their anxiety issue. 
  4. Replace negative self-talk with the positive kind. If your child has developed a negative attitude, you might help them solve this by encouraging them. Let them know they can be good at math even if you weren't. 
  5. Stay patient and supportive. Anxiety is a psychological problem. You might help your child with this problem by using healthy encouragement methods. Using accurate evaluation methods will also help your child overcome their anxiety in school. 
  6. Encourage your child to read through their math class syllabus. Teachers typically schedule what they plan to teach and how they're going to design their learning strategy in advance, giving students a class syllabus that outlines these plans. Reading this through, incorporating and teaching your child before the lessons are taught might help your child reduce their anxiety.
  7. Encourage your kid to understand math their own way. There are many ways to solve a problem. Each child has a different method of understanding. If they first understand it their way, it might be easier to understand the teacher's approach.
  8. Develop time management skills.  Help your kid learn how to schedule tasks. Use reminders or visual timers to help them manage time better
  9. Play math games. Play games that involve counting to give your child a practical example of numbers. This gives your child hands-on exposure to math from a young age.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

Child Mind Institute, Inc: "How to Help Kids With Math Anxiety."

Harvey Knowledge Center: "Reducing Math Anxiety."

Mission College: "Math Tests."

SAGE Publications: "Addressing math anxiety in the classroom."

State Government of Victoria, Australia: "Mathematics anxiety."

Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities: "Dealing with Math Anxiety."

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