Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version



Starlin, M. 2023. The Impact of Parent Math Anxiety on Parent Homework Help Behaviors. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Makenzie Starlin 2023.


Math anxiety is commonly defined as negative feelings toward mathematics or solving mathematics problems (Dowker et al., 2016). Research indicates that math anxiety can influence parenting behaviors during homework interactions, which can involve behaviors that are autonomy supportive, or allow the child to initiate the homework task, or controlling, which does not allow the child to be actively engaged (Retanal et al., 2021) In particular, autonomy support behaviors allow children to work through homework on their own, whereas control behaviors do not allow children to work through the homework on their own and instead involve parents overseeing the homework help interaction. This study investigated the associations between parent math anxiety and parent behaviors during a homework-help task. The sample included 118 second-grade children and their parents who attended a two-hour laboratory assessment to complete independent surveys and joint tasks. Interestingly, parent behaviors were observed and behaviorally coded by researchers during the joint homework-help task to identify autonomy supportive and controlling behaviors. This study allowed researchers to examine the association between parent math anxiety and parent autonomy support and control behaviors, while accounting for family demographics including child gender, parent race, family socioeconomic status, and child math achievement. Results indicated that parent math anxiety is significantly and negatively associated with autonomy support when controlling for children’s math achievement. Results also show that parent math anxiety is significantly and positively associated with controlling behaviors. The results indicate that parent math anxiety may influence parent behaviors while parents work on homework with children.