University of Missouri researchers have confirmed that anxiety about arithmetic operations can affect children starting in elementary school, and may be common in middle school when they encounter more complex problems.
In the results of a study published in July 2023, researchers indicated that this type of anxiety affects children with better math skills.
An assessment conducted in 34 countries found that between 20% and 25% of children suffer from moderate or severe math anxiety, and the likelihood of recovery from childhood phobias does not decrease with age without treatment. Economic Cooperation and Development participated, 59% of students between the ages of 15 and 16 fear “failing” at maths.
What is math anxiety?
Molly Geeson, professor of educational psychology at the University of Northern Colorado, defines math anxiety as “a type of fear that a person experiences when solving a math equation or assessing their math level or thinking about numbers,” according to the release. American Psychological Association website.
Jason, those who suffer from arithmetic anxiety do not necessarily have math skills, but the exaggerated anxiety prevents them from using the cognitive skills needed to solve math problems, thus affecting their school and even university exams. Future jobs.
Despite the similarity of symptoms, it is impossible to confuse anxiety in general with anxiety about math operations. A child with math anxiety suffers from other symptoms such as low self-esteem and skills, expectations of failure, absenteeism from math classes and avoidance of solutions, facial flushing, increased sweating, rapid heart rate, and confused thoughts.
Why does your child hate math?
Psychologists believe that finding the cause of a child’s development of anxiety is the first step to treating it. There are common reasons known to all, unlike languages and social sciences, there is no room for viewpoints in mathematical problems, which allows the child to express his answer smoothly, while the answer to the mathematical process does not give two different results. And any error in the stages of the solution, undoubtedly results in a wrong answer, which increases the child’s anxiety.
Colleen Ganley, a professor of developmental and educational psychology at Florida State University, said in a 2019 study report published by the Journal of Arithmetic Cognition that “anxiety over arithmetic operations is not only difficult, but also painful,” as her thousand test. Participants who underwent fMRI had significant activity in areas of the brain associated with threat and pain detection, as soon as they expected to make a calculation, they were motivated to avoid the threat regardless of gain.
Research evidence revealed a higher percentage among females, and its direct correlation with general anxiety and test anxiety, confirming that some may suffer from math anxiety alone.
How can you help your child?
- Find the cause: Jason affirmed that the child’s environment can be a direct cause of his anxiety, such as negative comments about their performance in math, or their numeracy skills, or teachers who follow autocratic methods and do not allow mistakes and put children under pressure. Answering in front of colleagues and bullying them when they make mistakes.
- Start early: People think that math skills are tied to innate intelligence that you may or may not have, but any child can excel at math if they learn the basic skills at a young age, learning math is holistic. Psychologists and educators have found that preschool is the best time to teach your child basic skills by taking them to the supermarket and giving them simple counting and addition tasks.
- Evaluate the case: Boca Sidney, a professor of developmental cognitive psychology at the University of Kentucky, noted in a statement on the American Psychological Association’s website that it’s important to rule out that your child is suffering from dyscalculia because it’s not a common condition for children to suffer from weakness. Ability to count, count backwards and understand addition and subtraction symbols.
- Mind your words: Avoid saying that math is hard, complicated or uninteresting, notice the negative words your child says about his failure and stupidity, and respond with words of encouragement and confidence in his abilities. Improve with time and multiple attempts.
- Appreciate the effort: Help your child gain mental flexibility by praising the effort, not the results. Instead of overestimating his score on a math test, praise his effort in learning a new difficult math skill.
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