This year my son tested into our district's Math Field Day competition. He was very excited to show us the results and we all agreed to commit to the weekly practice sessions after school. He enjoys playing games with our family, loves math, and enjoys making new friends. So this seemed a perfect fit. Indeed, he comes out of practice feeling energetic and enthusiastic about what they did.
However, as the competition day approaches, he's been more and more reluctant to go to practice. It's like a magnetic repulsion; the closer he gets in time and space to the classroom where they meet, the more agitated he gets. Yesterday, my wife finally asked the right questions and we discovered he's very worried about competing in the tournament.
As far as I can tell, the anxiety comes entirely from within; we aren't putting pressure on him to perform and I don't think the teachers are either. From what I know now, he thinks math is really important, he knows he should do very well, and he doesn't want to let himself down. He doesn't mind losing at board games because they aren't so important. (As an aside, I see a lot of myself in him at that same age.)
How can we talk him through this worry so that he will be able to deal with other competitions later in life?