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Parents’ and children’s mathematics anxiety

posted on 02.06.2017, 10:33 by Sophie Batchelor, Camilla Gilmore, Matthew Inglis
Mathematics anxiety refers to the syndrome of negative emotions that many individuals experience when engaging in tasks demanding numerical or mathematical skills. It has long been recognized by educators and researchers and has been shown to have a range of negative consequences, from poorer performance on mathematical tasks to avoidance of mathematical activities. Until recently, research into mathematics anxiety has focused on older children and adults. As such, little is known about the emergence of mathematics anxiety in early childhood. It is not clear how, or why, mathematics anxiety develops. One possibility is that parents play a role in shaping their children's attitudes and anxieties toward mathematics. Parents may transmit negative feelings toward the subject with comments such as “I've always been hopeless with numbers.” In this chapter we test this possibility by investigating the relationship between parents' and children's mathematics anxiety. First, we present an overview of mathematics anxiety with some brief historical perspectives. Next, we focus on the possible causes of mathematics anxiety, drawing on research from the general anxiety literature before narrowing down to look at the environmental influence of parents. Finally, we conclude with a summary of key findings in the field and emerging questions for future research.



  • Science


  • Mathematical Sciences

Published in

Understanding Emotions in Mathematical Thinking and Learning


315 - 336 (21)


BATCHELOR, S., GILMORE, C.K. and INGLIS, M., 2017. Parents’ and children’s mathematics anxiety. IN: Xolocotzin, U. (ed.). Understanding Emotions in Mathematical Thinking and Learning. London: Academic Press, pp. 315-336.


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