Strategies for Reducing Math Anxiety in Children

Although math anxiety is not widely discussed topic enough, it is a widespread phenomenon. According to Marilyn Curtain Phillips, M. Ed., math anxiety is "feelings of tension and anxiety that interfere with the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems in a variety of ordinary life and academic situations." Basically, due to things like the pressure of math tests and the fear of being embarrassment in front of their peers, many children will develop these feelings of anxiety and tension any time they are presented with math problems, and their ability to solve the problems will be somewhat diminished. Math anxiety often stays with a child for the rest of their lives, so it is important to start counteracting it early.

Here are some things you, as a parent, can do:

  • Incorporate math into your child's daily activities, for instance:
    • 1. Have them add together the prices of a few items at the grocery store
    • 2. Have them subtract the difference between the two teams’ scores at a sports game
    • 3. Have them use math in cooking, games, hobbies, or home repairs
    • 4. When giving them a time frame to finish a task, periodically ask them how much time is left
    • 5. When they are sharing items among siblings or friends equally, remind them they are carrying out a division operation
  • Increase how much praise your child receives when they answer questions right and if they got it wrong, still praise them for attempting the question, and ask them to give it another try.
  • Take steps to make your child’s math learning more hands-on and interactive, rather than only listening to concepts being explained.
  • Incorporate humor, cartoons, and jokes into your child’s math learning experience.

With the implementation of these practices into you and your child’s daily life, you can be a major force in counteracting any development of math anxiety in your child.