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Children Catch Math Anxiety From Parents

Researchers find that negative and anxious attitudes about math can be communicated from parent to child.

Nervous parents helping with homework can compromise children's attempts

(Randy Pederson, cc-by-2.0)
Math anxiety is the fear and tension that comes along with having to do anything involving mathematics. In adults, it can present itself when figuring out a tip in a restaurant or determining a sales discount.

But the anxiety can also be a problem for adults when it comes to helping their young children with math homework. In a recent study of grade one and two students, Dr. Erin Maloney, a Canadian Post-doctoral Scholar in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago, found that math anxious parents hinder the progress of their children in math class.

The nervous feeling, as well as the often negative attitudes about math that come with the anxiety, are easily passed on to the children during homework sessions.

Related Links

Paper in Psychological Science
- University of Chicago release
CBC News story
New York Times blog