I don’t know if Math Anxiety is listed in the mental health manuals, but its effects are real, and if not totally devastating, they can at least ruin a perfectly good family evening, especially the night before a test.
Math Anxiety can develop early or late, and can be triggered by a recent change in the child’s math environment: maybe a new teacher, a confusing textbook, or a sudden increase in the level of difficulty. Sensitivities vary, with some students unable to tolerate any mention of numbers at all, while others react strongly just to fractions and decimals. Personally, I’ve noticed that some students get along just fine with algebra but have severe reactions to geometric proofs, and vice versa, which is usually related to either being more logically or more visually inclined in their thinking.
In our family, symptoms of Math Anxiety have ranged from mild to severe. Quiet reluctance and procrastination may give way to loud protests, the emotional scrunching of homework pages, or full-blown hysteria. The police have never appeared to investigate, but I know the neighbors are wondering what’s going on.