How to overcome mathematics anxiety and phobia?

As a kid, I always have this Phobia “Mathematics” and the fear is still there somewhere in my subconscious mind no matter how old I get. I was always afraid of Math examination and even of Math class during my school days. I still remember how happy I used to get whenever my math teacher was absent. Due to the complexity and my fear of failure in Math, I had to choose Arts as a major in my secondary school education. Well, not only me but there are many children and adults who find Math too difficult or complex, and the term used for the fear of Mathematics is called “ MATHEMATICS ANXIETY” or even called “MATH PHOBIA”.

What actually is MATH ANXIETY?

Well, MATH ANXIETY or PHOBIA is a feeling of fear or anxiety that people have whenever they have to perform any mathematical skill, and for pupils whenever they have to appear in math exams or when they have to solve any algebra questions or other complex mathematical equations during their class. People who suffer from this typical type of anxiety are always incapable of doing activities that involve math. Although some people have good mathematical skills, they still get frightened and confused during exam just because of their fear. As a result, they either score low grades or even fails in the exam.

MATH PHOBIA – Major Causes

Main causes of Math anxiety include:

  • Student’s past negative experience: One of the main cause for Math anxiety is student’s negative or embarrassing experience with math or a math teacher in previous years in schools. There might be some misunderstanding problem with Math teacher or any embarrassing incident that might happen in the past during class, that resulted in an increase of fear.
  • The pressure of timed tests and deadlines: The limited time that tests imposed on students often result in increased anxiety and nervousness. Under those timed circumstances, students tend to forget concepts even though they have no problem remembering those concepts at home. These tests not only have a negative impact on grades but also increase fear of failure among children.
  • Risk of public embarrassment: Another important reason that contributes to the increase of Math anxiety is fear of getting embarrassed in front of the whole class for a wrong answer. In the past, if a student has been scolded or embarrassed for the wrong answer, then it is more likely that the same student would hesitate to answer any question in front of other audiences; it can make his or her anxiety even worse.

A study conducted using – Children’s Math Anxiety Questionnaire, by a group of researchers showed that the relationship between math anxiety and math ability develops when children are very young.

How to know that your child is suffering from Math anxiety?

  • Feeling of Nervousness: One of the most common symptoms of Math anxiety is getting all nervous and sweaty when it comes to something related to Mathematics. During Math class or Math exam or something related to Math, if your child started to feel nervous or all frightened, it means that he/she is a victim of Math anxiety.
  • Lack of confidence: Lack of confidence while solving any mathematical problem or if your child starting questioning his/her mathematical skills then it might be the result of Math anxiety.
  • Unwillingness to try: If your child stops trying to learn Math, it means either they are too afraid of failure or thinks that they can never be able to improve their skills. This is the time when you should understand that it’s time to do something about your child.

If you notice the above symptoms in your child, then it means that they have Mathematics phobia.

How to overcome this fear?

Now it’s time to help your child or this problem might get worse. What should parents or teachers actually do to help children in overcoming the horror of Math?

  1. Hire a Math tutor: The simplest solution to overcome the Math anxiety is to HIRE AN EXPERT MATH TUTOR that would assist the child to conquer his/her fear of mathematics. By teaching the student outside the school hours can actually help him to understand the concepts more effectively and can improve the grades.
  2. Make teaching more fun: Another thing that teachers can practice is to make teaching more fun by adding FUN AND INTERACTIVE METHODS of teaching instead of traditional teaching methods.
  3. Ask children what’s bothering them: An effective solution to this problem is to ASK KIDS or students about their problem area. If they are not able to tell, then ask them to write it on a paper. By considering the feedback, the teachers or parents could easily understand the problem and would know what they have to do in order to help the kids.
  4. Be supportive: Support your children no matter what. If they are not capable of improving the mathematical skills, DON’T FOIST THEM to do so. It will only make them more uncomfortable and anxious. Tell them to PERSUADE OTHER SKILLS in which they are actually interested in. The world already has enough Mathematics geniuses and it needs ingenious people of other skills too.

Well, math is not everyone’s cup of tea and parents should know it. Just support them and help them to conquer the Math anxiety with all possible solutions. If they get over it, then very well but if they are incapable to do so don’t pressurize them or you will infuse a permanent feeling of fear in their mind.


Ramandeep Kaur


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