Top 10 Fears Among Kids for Learning Math and What to Do About It


June 13, 2024   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Mathematics, with its abstract concepts and intricate formulas, can be intimidating for many children. It’s not uncommon for kids to develop fears and anxieties around learning math, which can hinder their progress and confidence in the subject. As a parent, understanding these fears and knowing how to address them can make a significant difference in your child’s math journey.

In this blog, we’ll explore the top 10 fears among kids when it comes to learning math, and provide strategies to help them overcome these challenges.

1. Fear of Failure:

  • Children often fear failure in math because they worry about getting the wrong answer or not understanding the concepts. This fear can lead to anxiety and avoidance behaviors, hindering their learning progress.


  • Create a supportive learning environment where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for growth. Share stories of successful individuals who faced setbacks but persisted.
  • Break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable steps to reduce feelings of overwhelm.
  • Encourage your child to keep a “growth mindset” journal where they can track their progress and reflect on their learning journey.

2. Fear of Numbers:

  • Some children find numbers overwhelming or confusing, leading to a basic fear of math.


  • Utilize hands-on activities like building blocks, counting games, and measuring tasks to make numbers more tangible.
  • ncorporate numbers into everyday activities such as grocery shopping, cooking, and telling time to reinforce their relevance.
  • Use visual aids like number charts and number lines to help your child visualize numerical concepts.

3. Fear of Not Being Smart Enough

  • Many children believe that math is only for “smart” people, leading to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.


  • Emphasize the importance of effort and perseverance over innate intelligence. Encourage your child to set achievable goals and celebrate their progress.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to challenge themselves and experience success in math-related activities.
  • Offer positive reinforcement and praise for their efforts, regardless of the outcome.

4. Fear of Tests

Test anxiety is common among children, and the pressure to perform well can cause stress and hinder performance in math assessments.


  • Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness exercises to help your child manage test anxiety.
  • Create a study schedule leading up to exams to ensure adequate preparation and reduce last-minute cramming.
  • Teach test-taking strategies such as reading questions carefully, underlining key information, and checking answers before submitting.

5. Fear of Word Problems

Word problems can be daunting for children as they require critical thinking and application of math concepts in real-life scenarios.


  • Break down word problems into smaller, more manageable steps, encouraging your child to identify key information and formulate a plan of attack.
  • Use real-life examples and scenarios that are relevant to your child’s interests and experiences.
  • Model problem-solving strategies and encourage your child to verbalize their thought process when tackling word problems.

6. Fear of Time Pressure

Some children struggle with timed math activities, feeling rushed and anxious during assessments or timed drills.


  • Practice time management skills by setting realistic goals and allocating time for specific tasks.
  • Use timed drills and practice tests to gradually acclimate your child to time pressure in a controlled environment.
  • Encourage your child to focus on accuracy rather than speed, emphasizing the importance of understanding concepts thoroughly.

7. Fear of Algebra

  • Algebraic concepts can be intimidating for many children as they advance in math.


  • Provide ample opportunities for hands-on practice and exploration of algebraic concepts through games, puzzles, and real-life applications.
  • Break down complex algebraic equations into smaller, more digestible components, reinforcing the connections between arithmetic and algebra.
  • Offer visual aids and mnemonic devices to help your child remember algebraic rules and formulas.

8. Fear of Asking for Help

Some children fear being judged or ridiculed for not understanding math concepts, leading them to avoid seeking help when needed.


  • Foster open communication by creating a safe space where your child feels comfortable expressing their concerns and asking questions.
  • Model asking for help yourself by seeking clarification or guidance when faced with challenges.
  • Reinforce the idea that asking for help is a sign of strength and resourcefulness, not weakness.

9. Fear of Math Teachers

  • Negative experiences with math teachers can instill fear and aversion towards the subject.


  • Facilitate positive relationships between your child and their math teacher by encouraging open communication and mutual respect.
  • Advocate for your child’s needs and provide feedback to the teacher regarding their learning preferences and challenges.
  • Offer support and encouragement at home to bolster your child’s confidence and motivation in the classroom.

10. Fear of Math as Irrelevant:

Children may question the relevance of math in their daily lives, leading to disinterest and apathy towards the subject.


  • Highlight the practical applications of math in everyday life, such as budgeting, cooking, and planning activities.
  • Explore math-related careers and hobbies that align with your child’s interests, showcasing the diverse opportunities available to those with strong math skills.
  • Incorporate real-world examples and problem-solving tasks into your child’s learning experiences to demonstrate the relevance and importance of math in various contexts.

When it comes to addressing the fear of failure in math, fostering a growth mindset is paramount. Parents can create an environment where mistakes are not only accepted but embraced as opportunities for learning and growth. By praising effort rather than solely focusing on correct answers, children learn to see setbacks as stepping stones toward mastery.

Breaking down complex problems into manageable steps helps alleviate feelings of overwhelm, empowering children to tackle challenges with confidence. Additionally, celebrating progress along the way reinforces the idea that improvement is a journey, not an endpoint, fostering resilience and perseverance.

To alleviate the fear of numbers, parents can employ hands-on activities and real-life applications to make mathematical concepts more tangible. By incorporating numbers into everyday activities such as cooking, shopping, or playing games, children develop a deeper understanding of their relevance.

Visual aids like number charts and manipulatives further enhance comprehension and retention. Through interactive experiences, children not only overcome their fear of numbers but also develop a positive association with math, paving the way for a lifelong appreciation of the subject.


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