31 Signs Your Child Struggling With Math [ Help your child with math] | Mental Math Worksheets

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Do you want to understand why is your child struggling with math? Are you concerned about your child’s progress in math? Do you want to know how to help a child struggling with math? Read on to understand the reason behind your child’s struggles with math. 

The benefits of learning math are many and children develop math skills at different rates. However, math is hard for some kids. Children struggling with math is more common than you think. It does not mean that your child is lazy or is not smart. The children who have difficulties with math just need a little extra support and the right kind of help. 

It is often difficult for parents to identify the signs that cause your child to struggle with math. Without understanding the main cause, the parents are unable to help their children. Lack of crucial help may have many negative impacts on the child. It can weaken the child’s numerical abilities and cause the child to develop low self-esteem. The child may also begin to dislike math or feel they are not as smart as their peers. If this problem is not addressed immediately, it will get progressively worse as the child progresses through school and the math gets more advanced. So, it is important to provide your child with help at an early stage.

This article will cover the following topics:

Signs that indicate your child is struggling with math

What causes children to struggle with Math?

How to help a child struggling with math

Identifying the key problem is the first step in solving your child’s struggle with math. This article with help you identify the common signs and behavior to look out for if your child is struggling with math. Through this knowledge, you will be able to provide much-needed help to your child so they can improve their math abilities.

Signs that indicate your child is struggling with math

1. Makes negative comments about math

If your child makes negative comments about math, it usually indicates that they are having problems with math. The child may say things like they hate math or math is their least favorite subject or they find math hard. 

Learn more about why children hate math.

2. Wants to miss out on math class 

The child does not like math class or the math teacher. The child refuses to go to school when there’s math class or they have been found to skip math class.

3. Reluctant to do math homework

Children struggling with math often procrastinate or avoid doing math home works or assignments. They also tend to get upset or angry when asked to do their math assignments.

4. Anxiety around math

Math anxiety is very real. If your child starts crying or getting nervous, anxious, and worried before every math test or exam, it may indicate your child is struggling with math anxiety. This is a serious issue and must be dealt with immediately.

Learn about how to overcome math anxiety.

5. Cheating or copying math

If your child copies math assignments and homework or is caught cheating during math test or exam, it shows that the child is unable to do math on their own. It usually indicates that the child is lacking math abilities or the child does not understand math concepts.

6. Forgetful during math tests or exams

Your child says that they forget what they have learned during exams, quizzes, and tests and their mind goes blank. This is a sign of a child struggling with math. Your child may be having problems retaining information or recalling math facts and concepts.

7. Hides math test results and report cards

The child deliberately hides math test results, assignment scores, or report card, or says that they did not get one. The child will only do this if they have got low marks or failed in math, and this clearly shows that your child is having trouble with math.

8. Gets frustrated when practicing math

Children struggling with math get easily frustrated, tired angry, or upset when working with numbers or practicing math problems. Observe your child’s behavior during math sessions and if they repeatedly demonstrate this kind of behavior, it is time to take some action.

9. Low grades in math only

Your child devotes their entire time to other subjects and avoids math altogether. If your child is good in their studies and does well in all other subjects except math, it definitely means that your child is having difficulties with math. Math is not like other subjects and requires understanding and logical thinking.

10. Difficulty recognizing numbers

The child has difficulty or problems with recognizing or distinguishing between numbers. This could signify learning difficulties. It is important that you have your child checked as soon as possible and if they are diagnosed with learning difficulties, you need to take steps to provide them the right kind of support.

11. Difficulty writing numbers

The child has difficulty with writings numbers, writes it the opposite way or the numbers are unrecognizable. This issue is often common in younger children. This means that your child has a poor number sense and may be struggling with number identification. It is important to correct these kinds of mistakes as early as possible.

12. Cannot follow steps 

Children struggling with math find it difficult to solve math problems whenever it requires multiple steps and they need to follow step by step method. This means that your child is unable to think about the problem analytically and break it into manageable components. It could signify a lack of basic math foundation or concepts. 

13. Unable to make math connections

Your child is unable to see or form a relationship between various numbers and equations. For example 4+1=5 and 1+4=5 or 4+1=5 and 5-1=4. Understanding the relationship between numbers is crucial for solving any math and if you notice that your child is having a problem with this aspect, you need to take effective countermeasures.

14. Struggles with abstract thinking

A child struggling with math often finds it difficult to understand concepts like before and after, more and less, older and younger, greater and smaller, etc. This could affect their problem-solving ability especially when it comes to math word problems.

15. Difficulty estimating costs 

The child faces difficulty with calculations regarding money like estimating the cost of items and how much they should pay or calculating what change they must get back after paying. The child could struggle with finances later on in life if it is not resolved. This also shows that your child may be having difficulty with mental calculation.

16. Difficulty understanding time

The child faces difficulty in telling time, estimating time, reading clock and watches, or calculating hours left, etc.  If this is not corrected, it will hamper your child’s time management ability and lead to a wastage of time.

17. Trouble with managing time

The child takes way too long to solve a math problem or has difficulty sticking to a fixed time schedule or completing tasks in the assigned time. This means that your child has poor time sense or it could be due to slow processing speed.

18. Cannot apply math in real life

A child struggling with math often finds it difficult to connect math they learn in the classroom with real-life situations like number 5 corresponding to 5 pencils in real life. Such children may also start avoiding math as they feel math is not relevant in the real world, which is not true.

19. Difficulty with mental math 

The child is often found counting using fingers and is unable to perform simple calculations mentally. Mental math is very important if you want to improve your child’s efficiency and speed in math.

Learn about how you can help your child with mental math.

20. Gets discouraged easily

When solving a math problem, your child gets upset and discouraged and gives up easily without even trying. You need to nurture your child patiently toward math and motivate them to love math.

21. Poor reasoning ability

The child is unable to apply other methods or approaches while solving math problems. They cannot think independently and just rely on the one method they have learned. This means that that child may be memorizing math instead of thinking about the math problems logically.

22. Poor memory

A child struggling with math facts has difficulty remembering and recalling math facts and basic concepts learned in the past lessons or previous grade. It may mean that they did not completely understand the math covered in the previous grade.

23. Trouble with advanced math 

The child struggles to apply basic math or connect math concepts to solve advanced problems. This effects children more as they advance in their grades. Math becomes more complex as the child advances, and it is important that your child masters every single skill before moving on to the next level.

24. Difficulty staying focused

The child cannot stay in one place for long, get fidgety and distracted midway during math problems, or gets mentally tired. This is a sign of boredom or lack of attention that usually occurs when your child does not find the task interesting enough. It could signify underlying problems like ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) or anxiety.

25. Not being able to meet required milestones

The child is falling behind and not developing at the same rate as other children their age, keeping in mind that every child develops at different rates. You need to address this issue immediately as such experiences may have a negative impact on your child’s self-esteem and confidence.

26. Difficulty recognizing with math symbols 

Children struggling with math have difficulty identifying and understanding the functions of various math symbols like +, -, =, >, <, etc. Symbols are an abstract concept and hence, may not be clear to kids immediately. All kids need time to learn about what the symbols mean. But, symbols are an important part of math and need to be mastered. If even after extra support, your child is confused with symbols, it could signify Dyscalculia which is a math learning difficulty.

27. Confused by rules and scores

The child has difficulty keeping counts during sports and games and understanding how scores are given. Keeping score needs math, and this could denote that your child is having trouble with math. To keep score, one needs to remember the reference point and perform math mentally, and this may be hard for some kids.

28. Unable to organize things in logical order

A child struggling with math is not able to organize things in a logical way like from big to small size, lighter to darker, etc. This could mean your child is having problems with sequencing. If not corrected, your child may have difficulty following instructions or completing multi-step tasks in later life.

29. Difficulty understanding amounts

The child has trouble understanding and estimating amounts, and getting a hold of concepts such as first, second or little, more, etc. Estimation requires math and a keen sense of number relationship. If your child lacks math basics, they could have problems with estimating correctly.

30. Difficulty understanding distance

The child has difficulty understanding the concept of distance like near, far or estimating distances between often traveling places like from their home to school, home to park, etc. You can practice every day with your child to improve their sense of distance.

31. Working with measurements

A child struggling with math often has difficulty understanding and differentiating between different units of measurements like gram, feet, or liter. They have faces issues with understanding which is greater or smaller such as feet, inches, centimeters, millimeters, etc. This may be because your child has not understood the metric system properly. This could hamper your child in later life in making wise decisions as many things we use every day are quantified.

What causes children to struggle with Math?

There are many factors to consider when it comes to children struggling with math. Some of the most important reasons behind child math problems are:

Lack of math foundation

For anyone to progress in math, it is important to understand the basic concepts and facts of math and have a solid grasp of the foundational level. This is because math is a cumulative subject and the math of the current grade is always built on the math learned in the previous grades. It is important for children to master each grade math before moving on to the next level. If not, it creates gaps in knowledge that will hinder their understanding and problem-solving ability in later stages. A good base of elementary math skills is very important for each child. 

For a child struggling with math facts and lacking this basic foundation, it becomes very difficult to advance further in math. They will have problems comprehending complex math problems and will not be able to break down problems into steps. Also, if children lack knowledge in some specific math topics, they can struggle with advanced math later. Hence, it is necessary to have a balanced development in math as well. 

Learn more about math milestones for your kids according to their age.

Learning difficulties

Sometimes, the reason behind your child struggling with math may be due to a certain learning disability or a different way of thinking. These are a number of learning disabilities that affect many children in the world like APD, Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities, Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit, ADHD, etc. There is also a special kind of math learning disability called dyscalculia or Math Dyslexia that can greatly hamper a child’s math ability. 

These disabilities can be caused due to various factors like illness, genetics, gene defect, environment, injury, or trauma. Children with learning difficulties often have problems with memory, attention, and remembering facts. They may also have difficulty recognizing and differentiating between numbers and symbols etc. or understanding logical concepts. 

Math anxiety

Math anxiety is a real thing and is very common in fact that leads to many children struggling with math. This may affect your children as well. The children who suffer from math anxiety often get worried, nervous, and anxious before math tests or exams. They may also show physical signs like getting dizzy, tensing up, getting an upset stomach, sweating, etc. before such events. 

This greatly affects the child’s confidence and the children suffering from math anxiety often forget concepts they know perfectly. This causes many children to do poorly in math and as a result of this, the children start to look at math negatively and may avoid math in the future. 

Learn how to overcome math anxiety.

Myths about math

Throughout history, math has always been considered a difficult subject to master and it has always been thought that all mathematicians are geniuses. We hear this often and this discourages many children from developing a keen interest in math. They also think that math is not useful in real life, which is not true. You need to make your child understand the importance of math in our everyday lives.

Children struggling with math often give up on math without even trying because they think math is too hard. This attitude causes easily solvable problems to be regarded as something out of their abilities. This a myth and though math may require a more logical way of thinking compared to other subjects, it is not out of reach for any children. Through dedication and regular practice, it is possible for every child to be good at math.

How to help a child struggling with math? 

There are various ways you can help your child overcome struggles with math and improve problem-solving abilities . Before you can provide any help, you need to first accept that “My child needs help with math”. You must also understand that your child struggling with math is not academically weak just because they struggle with math. Each child also differs in their math abilities and some may just need a little bit of extra help to reach their full potential. 

You then need to find out the exact nature of the problem faced by your child. Every problem is unique and different and so are ways of solving it. With the right kind of support and resources, your child is sure to succeed in math.

Here are some tips on how to help a child struggling with math. 

Identify the exact nature of the problem

The first step in helping your child struggling with math is to identify the key area they are having trouble with. You need to take notice of certain patterns and behaviors that show signs of children struggling with math. To do so, you will need to carefully observe your children during their math sessions and also during their day to day activities. 

You can also get in touch with or school counselor or your child’s pediatrician. This may provide valuable insight if your child’s struggle with math is due to learning disabilities or some behavioral issues. To gain a more precise understanding of why your child is having trouble with math, you can also talk to your child’s math teacher. This will prove very helpful as the teacher may be able to provide you with helpful tips on how to help your child based on their experiences. By talking to the teacher, you will also provide them with crucial information about your child’s struggles with math. They can then help your child in the classroom by giving individual attention and keeping an eye on your child in the classroom. If your child is struggling with a specific area of math, you can get helpful tips on how to improve on these specific math skills from the teacher. 

By identifying the exact nature of the problem, you will be able to provide the right kind of support and guidance for your child struggling with math. 

Demonstrate a positive attitude

Many children also tend to struggle with math due to their attitude towards math. The children feel that math is too hard and they will never get it. It is crucial for you to develop a positive mindset towards math and be a role model for your children struggling with math. If you show that you do not like math yourself, you may indirectly influence your kids to not like math. You must help your children understand that struggling with math is something they can overcome and that this struggle must be seen as a challenge rather than a problem. Make sure to be careful not to say things like many people are bad at math or you yourself do not understand math very well. 

You should also be careful not to dismiss the child when they tell you that they are stuck at a certain step. Make sure to work together to find a solution and motivate your child not to give up. This will encourage your child to find new approaches and develop their interest in math.

Incorporate math in day to day life

Children struggling with math usually tend to avoid math as they feel it has no value in real life. It is important for your children to understand that math is present all around us and has applications in day to day life, and it does not exist just in the textbooks. You need to show your children why math is important in life. When your children understand this, they will be motivated to take a keen interest in math and look at math with a completely different perspective. You can teach your child math as you do day to day activities like cleaning, shopping, cooking, traveling, etc. This will also be a fun and interactive activity that you can do with your child every day and your child will not even feel like they are learning. By showing your children the applications of math in real life, you will also be teaching them that it is an important tool in their lives and not just a boring subject.

You can also make a habit of practicing math with your child every day even if it is for short time. By doing this, you will know what area they are struggling with exactly. This will also help kids remember what they have learned in their class. When you get involved with your child’s education, it will make a vast difference in their performance.

Build on basic math foundation

It is important for your child to have a solid foundation in math. Since math is a cumulative subject, a lack of understanding of basic concepts and facts will cause children to struggle with math to have more problems as they advance. Your need to always ensure that your child has mastered the current grade math before moving on to the next grade. This way there will be no gaps in learning and it will help simplify many complex math problems. If you find that your child has a weak math foundation, you can always tutor them yourself, or find a tutor to help them catch up to the current level. You could also make use of math apps and math worksheets to help your children develop a solid math foundation.

Learn about how to make your child understand math.

Make math engaging and fun

As a parent, you should always strive to make math fun, especially for a child struggling with math. You need to be creative and come up with an engaging learning method that will help your children understand math in a simple way. This could be something like turning math into a game or make use of interesting math tricksto teach math to your child. You can also incorporate readily available materials to improve your child’s math skills. One common method is to math practice books and math worksheets for your kids. You can also make use of various math apps, fun math games, math puzzles, math board games to help your child learn math while having fun. 

With these creative and entertaining methods, your child will not only improve in math but will also start taking an interest in math and change their perspective about math. Also, make sure to break any tension with some funny math jokes (61 Cheesy Math Jokes for Kids). 

Learn more on how to make math fun for your kids.

Get extra help if needed

As a parent, you may not be familiar with proper teaching methodologies and may not be able to provide the right guidance to your child. You yourself may sometimes find it difficult to properly understand new concepts in math. During such times, you may not be able to help your child yourself, and you should not be shy about asking for help. After all, it is for your child’s benefit. You can also go through math resources and learn about new math teaching methods to develop your understanding of current mathematics.

If your child is really struggling with math, it may be a good idea to hire a math tutor or send your child for extra math classes. Many schools provide free after-school tutoring as well. You can also talk to your child’s math teacher so they can give some individual attention to your child during class. Today, there are also many online tutoring available that are equally as effective. You could also share your experiences with other parents and form a support group. This extra help might be just the thing your child struggling with math needed to succeed.

Find out if your child has a learning disability

A learning disability could also be the reason behind your child struggling with math. If your child really struggles, as a parent it is important you need to provide them with the right kind of support. You can get your child diagnosed if you suspect they are showing symptoms of learning difficulties. You can notice certain patterns your child may be showing like inability to pay attention, inability to recall what they learned, easily forgetting things, getting confused with numbers, or finding it hard to do simple calculations even after teaching numerous times. A learning disability can have a negative impact on your child as they may feel they are not as smart as the other kids and lose their self-confidence. 

If you suspect that your kid may be having some kind of difficulty with learning, you need to visit a counselor or a psychiatrist and get your child evaluated. The sooner you do so, the better it is. This will help your understand you’re the problem your child is facing, and enable you to come up with effective methods to help your child in their educational journey. 


The struggle with math is real. Make sure that your kid’s struggle with math is productive and not detrimental or demotivating. With these helpful tips outlined above, you will able to provide the right kind of support to your child and nurture them towards a successful journey into math. 

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