Showing children how to lower their worry levels while relaxing and opening the mind can be a great gift which will promote lifelong learning.
Daniel Goleman’s book entitled “Emotional Intelligence”, on page 96, discusses this by talking about good moods. Before having subjects solve a problem (non-math related) they primed them in one of two ways. One group watched blooper videos where others watched videos on math. It turns out that those who watched the blooper videos did a better job in their problem solving activity. It seems that the blooper videos relaxed, or opened, the mind to see a wider range of possibilities. I suppose that means the math video had stagnant, if not narrowing, effect on the mind’s creativity. I’m assuming this was a boring video.
On page 95 he talks about the influence that worry can have on cognitive performance. Here he describes a study where subjects are told to narrate their thinking processes as they perform a task. Those who tended to worry more, during the test, did worse. A set of non-worriers where told to worry, and as expected, did worse on the activity. I think most important for the teacher are solutions for the “natural worrier”. In this study they gave a group of worriers a 15-minute relaxation session before the activity and they did much better on the task.
Worry can be a healthy motivator, but it can also waist vital resources in the mind.