Many adults hate or dread math. The problem is that kids pick up on those feelings and become anxious about math, too. Research shows that when kids are anxious about math, it hinders their ability to solve problems.

One study found that a parent’s math anxiety actually reduced their child’s math learning.

If you have negative feelings about math, you can avoid passing them on to your child by changing the way you talk about math at home. Instead of telling your child that you are not good at math, or that you dislike it, encourage your child to explore math with an open mind for themselves. Here’s how:

  1. If your child says: “I need help. I don’t know how to do the diagram.”

    Don’t say: “Diagram? Why do they make you do so much work just to answer a simple division question? I’m not a math person. Let’s wait till your dad gets home.”

    Instead say: “Drawing in math class? That sounds like a fun way to learn math.”

  2. If your child says: “How much do you think this big watermelon costs?”

    Don’t say: “I don’t know. You know I’m not good at math.”

    Instead say: “Hmm. Let’s weigh it! And then we can estimate the price based on the weight of the watermelon.”

  3. If your child says: “How long until we get there?”

    Don’t say: “A little less than the last time you asked.”

    Instead say: “Let’s figure it out. We’re driving 25 miles an hour. And we have about eight miles left. How much time do you think we have?”

By keeping the way you talk about math neutral — or even better, keeping it positive — you will help your child do better in math.

Read next: 3 things to say when your child says, “I’m bad at math!”