My child is anxious when she gets wrong answers. What can I do?

Getting wrong answers on homework or a test can be discouraging. We live in a society in which getting a "wrong" answer is typically looked down upon. We celebrate getting something "right" while disregarding "wrongs." It is no big wonder that many children get anxious when getting wrong answers. Some children get anxious even before completing a test or an assignment in fear of getting "wrong" answers. A certain level of anxiety is beneficial to build good study habits and perseverance, but at times such anxiety could be overwhelming and debilitating. The key is to build a home learning environment that looks positively on "wrong answers" as something to learn from and to build on. When reviewing homework or test scores, instead of asking, "Why did you get this wrong?" say something like, "What did you learn from this try?" Make sure to communicate that getting a wrong answer is a step in the learning process rather than the end result. Engage your child to think about perseverance such as, "Let's give this a second try together and see if we can get the correct answer."

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.