Mathematical anxiety in children

Mathematical anxiety

Mathematical anxiety in children is a fairly frequent disorder. What happens to them is a feeling of intense pressure and a lot of nervousness when having to perform mathematical operations in public. Although it is a simple multiplication, both small and adults simply can not tolerate it.

The particularity of mathematical anxiety in children and adults is that it does not distinguish between intellectual coefficients. It can happen to both an infant who just takes his first steps in that field and someone with a university degree under his belt.

It could be considered as a kind of phobia of numbers. Far from being “strange phenomena”, those who suffer from it must know that there are extensive scientific studies on this psychological condition.

Not only does this fear attack you with calculations worthy of a blackboard of an engineering class; On the contrary, a very common place where it flourishes is in restaurants, when dividing the account.

What are the symptoms of mathematical anxiety?

Mathematical anxietyAn individual may notice that he suffers from this problem when he detects the following signs:

  • Sweaty hands and forehead.
  • Tremor in the pulse.
  • Difficulty breathing and talking.
  • Restlessness and impatience.
  • Absolute impossibility to concentrate and stay calm.

It has even been reported that the brain releases cortisol, the stress hormone when faced with this situation. The curious thing, moreover, is that the same regions of the brain that work when the person is injured are activated.

In children, mathematical anxiety manifests itself many times in the form of rejection. They will not be willing to carry out the instructions that are requested of them. Nor will they show a predisposition to overcome this difficulty to learn. Moreover, it can also affect boys with good performance in this subject.

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Causes of mathematical anxiety in children

Mathematical anxietyIn the first place, it is convenient to point out that mathematical anxiety should not be confused with dyscalculia. The latter refers to a difficulty of learning in the mathematical field itself, but not to an aversion of the person towards it.

Regarding the causes, the reasons why mathematics is more conflictive than other subjects have still not been determined. One thing that is certain is that children see it as a threat; a sort of test that, sooner or later, they will have to face and try to succeed.

For this reason, the amygdala is activated in them, a gland that acts when a person feels close to danger. An explanation may be to be afraid of failing a test.

Although this can occur in other subjects, mathematics has a particularity: there are no grays or ways to “make up” an answer to disguise our ignorance. There are only two options: good or bad. Usually, in addition, there is also a clear path to reach it.

On the other hand, there may also be some lack of self – esteem. That is to say, the child knows that he can do the calculations well, but mistrusts his ability to not make any mistakes in the process.

Other origins of this disorder can be found in the insecurity or inability of the teacher to transmit knowledge safely. It can also be a bad transmission by parents, either by suffering it too or by putting too much pressure on their little ones.

How to deal with mathematical anxiety in children?

Mathematical anxietyGenerally, those who seek to overcome this fear resort to psychological therapy. In the case of children, it will be the parents who should promote and promote this treatment. That is why it is so important that they get involved and are aware of the progress of their children in school.

Aversion therapy is a frequent resource for dealing with it. This consists of facing fear to learn to overcome it.

It is a method that can be applied even at home in a simple way. How? Just sit next to your child and tell him that you also have calculations to do. So you can help him and then ask him to help you so that together you overcome that unfounded fear that paralyzes him.

For many, it may sound like something unimportant or a minor transcendence disorder. However, some studies characterize it as “epidemics” in countries, including Spain. In addition, of course, phobias are not at all pleasant for those who suffer them.

So, if you see that your child has an unfounded rejection of numbers and accounts, evaluate if it is not a case of mathematical anxiety. If so, do not hesitate to make a professional consultation to get it out of that problem as soon as possible.

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