Math anxiety is a common issue among kids who struggle with math in their student years. This leads to an intense feeling of stress or worries when your kid has to do a math task. It can happen at school or at home. For example, kids may feel anxiety in class when teachers explain a math problem or when they have to do math homework. Or when they compare themselves to their classmates.

Hatred toward math or general nervousness or even lack of positive associations with math all point toward ‘math anxiety’.

What is math anxiety?

My 12-year-old gets upset and stressed out when doing math. 

An estimated 17 percent of American students have some form of math anxiety. While most parents box anxiety as a general dislike towards the subject or off-task behavior, it might be a much deeper concern. To even start addressing the issue of math anxiety in your child, you must first understand the most obvious signs and symptoms:

  1. Disinterest or lack of response
    • Trying to change topic while someone is discussing math or even numbers remotely
    • Avoiding the topic completely and showcasing alternate interests
  2. Vocal negativity and low self-worth (w.r.t math)
    • Statements like “I hate math”, “math is for geeks” etc.
    • A general diffidence while discussing math
  3. Falling grades

Peer conditioning (a friend passing on hatred for math to your child), limiting beliefs (like math is only for a selected few students) and negative remarks received by teachers are some factors that lead to math anxiety. If not addressed during the childhood and middle school years, it could affect your child’s professional life later on. Every company today demands some form of analytical and mathematical capability in its key roles. 

While the signs and symptoms listed above may seem like a resounding alarm, it’s never too late to actively start addressing math anxiety in your child. 

Regardless of the cause of math anxiety, you as a parent (and also as a teacher) can help your child (or student). Here are our top 5 ways for you to help your child combat math anxiety:

1. Understand and replace the limiting beliefs with better affirmations

Tackling math anxiety begins with addressing limiting beliefs that your child may have accumulated over time. It’s never too late to start and you can identify most limiting beliefs by simply observing your child’s conversation and self-talk about math. You can replace these limiting beliefs by saying affirmative sentences to your child that put math in a good, less intimidating spot. Remember that repetition is power. By speaking simple positive sentences you can erase negative old beliefs and replace them with positive ones. 

Here are some common beliefs that children with math anxiety have and alternate affirmations that you may want to use:

  • “Math is not for everyone” (replace with: “math is easy!”)
  • “I can’t remember so many formulas” (replace with: “formulas make calculations so easy”)
  • “Math geniuses are born, not made” (replace with: “everyone can become a math genius with practice”)
  • “Math bores me” (replace with: “math is fun, just like a game of numbers!”)

2. Make math a part of their daily life (make it a game!)

Gamifying math can help your child visualize problems better and hence solve them with more comfort and confidence. Ask them everyday life-related questions without making math behind them obvious, for example: 

  • When you go shopping next time to Walmart or Target, ask them which combination of products would get you the maximum discount? (let them do it mentally)
  • “I made this juice with 400 ml of apple juice and 600 ml of orange juice. Can you tell me how much more apple juice should I add to this to make them both 50% of the total?”

Also, today in the world of online educational resources, there is no dearth of math tutorials, games, video lectures, etc. Explore online math quizzes or interactive games especially around mathematical riddles and puzzles, to begin with. These are often a fresh, colorful, and more visual take on math – different from the world of plain notebooks and blue ink.

Also Read: How to improve your math skills

3. Get them guidance and support from a professional tutor

Getting a math tutor can be life-changing for a child with math anxiety. This is no exaggeration because, at Talentnook, we have witnessed these transformative journeys of students especially in the case of math. There are multiple ways in which a tutor can help your child with math anxiety. Many of the habits formed under the guidance of a tutor are beneficial in the long term.

  • A tutor can help your child have a more disciplined approach towards regular math practice. Regularity in practice is the key to addressing math anxiety
  •  Your child’s math tutor will be able to give them the one-on-one attention that they may never receive at school which only worsens their math anxiety day after day
  • A tutor is often not just an ad-hoc teacher but also a child’s confidant, they can discuss their exact areas of concern much more freely with them

At Talentnook, you can connect with hundreds of highly qualified math tutors (with even specific area specializations – algebra, geometry, statistics, etc.) at the click of a button. Log on now and start exploring tutors in your neighborhood who can partner with your child in their journey to become their best at math.

Book trial lessons with Math tutors

4. Help your child approach Math differently

Do you reach out for a calculator every now and then? Do you dismiss calculations and use guesswork while estimating numbers in your general talk? Or do you use statements like, “math was never my thing too but I found my sweet spot with Physiology and it worked”? All of this can signal a general repulsion towards math at your end. It automatically makes your child pick up the vibe for math and which eventually contributes to causing math anxiety. 

Become more welcoming of everyday calculations and use positive sentences only while discussing anything even remotely related to numbers, geometrical patterns, etc.

5. Let your child know you believe in their progress 

Always encourage your child to take math as a fun subject rather than an intimidating one. Even if their progress is slower than what you expected after your first pep talk, give them time. While your child may be exposed to a lot of flak and negative statements about their performance in math at school (teachers and peers may do so without even realizing it), you should be their constant cheerleader.

Also Read: How to use mind maps to enhance your learning ability

Remember that all growth paths are not linear and may involve a lot of growing pains as well! Be your child’s best friend and cheerleader in this journey and they will soon grow out of all their math anxiety.

We hope this blog has helped you understand math anxiety with more clarity than ever before. The methods outlined above can be customized at all levels to best fit your child’s needs. And need you any more help, we are a buzz away! Visit Talentnook and get in touch with hundreds of qualified math tutors, request demo lessons, and let your child take their pick!

Home Schooling Author Pragya