How math anxiety in parents can affect their involvement in their children's education (and their performance)

A new study reveals an interesting link between mindset theory and self- determination theory. Dajung Diana Oh and her colleagues investigated how parents' math anxiety is related to a controlling or autonomy-supporting involvement in their child's education. 

Math anxiety 

Quite a few people have a certain fear of mathematics. This fear of math usually has to do with a fixed mindset about math. This fixed mindset is the belief that teaching mathematics is primarily a matter of aptitude and that you lack that aptitude yourself. 

Research Oh et al. (2022) 

Oh et al. (2022) conducted a study (N = 562) on the effects of parental anxiety on their involvement in their children's math education. The children's math achievements were also tracked. 
Parents reported on their math anxiety and on their controlling and autonomy-supporting involvement in their children's math education. Their style of coaching was also observed. 
At the same time and a year later, the children's math achievements were monitored. 


The researchers found the following results: 
  • Parents with greater math anxiety were found to be more controllingly involved in math education and less autonomy-supportive in children who performed worse in math 
  • Controlling parenting predicted lower math achievement in these children one year later 


The findings suggest that math-anxiety parents tend to use practices with children who struggle with math that further undermine their math performance. This can create an unconstructive cycle for children's math learning. 
Mathematics has been taken as an example in this study because it is a subject that many people fear. But it seems to me that the findings could apply to other subjects just as much.