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#1 of 13 Old 04-20-2012, 08:05 PM - Thread Starter
 
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First the background story: My 9 year old daughter is a bright kid. She loves to read, does very well at school, everything has always come very easy to her with little effort, school wise and physically she's always very good at sports. She hasn't had to put forth much effort, if any, to get 100% on everything at school. Socially, she's very laid back and makes friends easily. She is in TAG at school but we don't have a big budget for it, she is in a third/fourth grade blend which works out great. She is in third grade but stays with the fourth graders most of the day to do 4th grade stuff, which she says is very easy, and I believe her as she's getting the grades that prove it.

 

So, here's the problem: She is so easily frustrated when she is challenged by something that she gets herself worked up to tears every time. How do I help her through this? I talk to her about it by bringing up examples of the past when she has learned new things and once she figures them out they become "easy things". I'm not sure if she's being hard on herself, or she's upset that something is hard? Is this just a part of her personality that she will outgrow? 

 

I guess as her Mom I just have a hard time seeing her upset about anything and want to help her. 

 

I try to challenge her and push her academically at home because I know she doesn't get much of that at school. I obviously don't want to push her to the point that she's upset but it's hard to gauge that point with her. We were doing some double digit multiplication (42 x 28 for example) that had her crying at first because she thought it would be hard, but she figured it out after about 2 minutes and was fine....

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#2 of 13 Old 04-23-2012, 08:30 AM
 
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Bumping for you.

 

My daughter is much the same way.  For her, we see this as a manifestation of her anxiety.  Others see this kind of behavior when kids don't encounter material on a regular basis that they don't have to think through.  You might need to spend some time trying to tease out what might be the cause and effect in your daughter.

 

We've had a significant amount of success with reminding her that she can figure things out if she gives herself the chance and asks for help.
 

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#3 of 13 Old 04-26-2012, 10:03 AM
 
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I was just going to post something similar - my daughter doesn't show frustration or upset - she just gives up! 'Doesn't want to do it"  and she's of a temperament that makes it VERY difficult to get her to do anything she does not want to (and depending on what it is, shouldn't it be her choice?)

 

I worry that since she never has to try that hard, and since anything that gives her the least bit of a challenge she abandons, then how will she ever learn to really put forth a good effort and the satisfaction of working hard for something then achieving it?

She's 8 and in the second grade (with TAG one day - which she loves but she just started so it's effect remains to be seen)

 

Any thoughts out there on strategies for those that have had so much come so easily?

 

 

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#4 of 13 Old 04-26-2012, 10:30 AM
 
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I have an 8 year old daughter (in 2nd grade) & she is the exact same way.  I'd love to hear from someone who now has an older child who had this issue & hopefully overcame it!

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#5 of 13 Old 04-26-2012, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks ladies, for your responses. Sounds like I am not in this alone. I guess I will just keep talking to her about it. 

 

Working through things and not giving up, especially when they are hard, is such an important life skill that I do not want her to miss. It's great to be  very smart but I think it's more important to have an attitude of perseverance and to not give up when things get a little tough. That perseverance is going to get one much further in life, I believe. 

 

Her teacher gave her some higher level spelling words this week with some tougher "challenge" words and when my daughter first saw them she was saying "well, we don't have to do the challenge words, so I'm not going to. they are too hard!" and I just don't want her to have that defeatist attitude without even giving them a shot. So I just told her we would give them a try and see how this first week went, and she could choose not to do them after this. After 2 days of studying them with other homework she has them nailed and seems very proud of herself. I am hoping this was a positive experience that she will remember next time, and not give up so easily. 

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#6 of 13 Old 04-26-2012, 03:17 PM
 
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I was in G&T as a kid, and had the same issues.  For me, it stemmed in part from being a perfectionist, in part from having low self esteem, and in part from being a praise junkie.  Failure simply wasn't an option, and anything that could result in even a small mistake was avoided. 
 

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#7 of 13 Old 04-26-2012, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Breathless Wonder View Post

I was in G&T as a kid, and had the same issues.  For me, it stemmed in part from being a perfectionist, in part from having low self esteem, and in part from being a praise junkie.  Failure simply wasn't an option, and anything that could result in even a small mistake was avoided. 
 

 

So, how are you as an adult and was there anything anyone could have done to help you out at the time?

 

There is definitely some perfectionist and fear of failure in her. I think her self esteem is healthy and high. I have always worked on affirmations with her and they helped a lot in the past, I think I need to get her back to doing them.

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#8 of 13 Old 04-26-2012, 10:23 PM
 
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I have a 15-year-old and an 18-year-old who were fairly extreme perfectionists as young children. They were prone to nuclear meltdowns, anxiety and avoidance when they met up with things that didn't come easily, or even with things that they viewed from afar and couldn't be sure would come easily. My now-18-year-old dd outgrew it gradually by the age of 9 or 10. She's a super-high achiever, but she is good with stepping outside her comfort zone to do things she's not good at, and she's amazing at persisting through challenges. My ds still has some lingering anxiety about trying new things, but his frustration fits and avoidance settled down by age 10-11, and he is really stretching himself, taking risks and greeting big challenges in healthy ways especially in the past year or two.

 

I'm not sure whether some of the things I tried will be applicable in your situation, but for what they're worth:

 

I kept them out of almost all competitive and comparative situations until adolescence, and that included school and schooling and traditionally graded academic curricula. If they came out on top, it was a shallow victory because invariably needed to put very little work into the achievement. (They also felt terrible about the other children who might be struggling.) If they weren't sure they could come out on top, they would become extremely anxious and/or withdrawn. As young children it was clear they weren't ready to work through all those feelings. We unschooled and they had almost no awareness of or curiosity about where they stacked up relative to agemates. They did a lot of multi-age, multi-level activities, but nothing competitive or "levelled."

 

I encouraged them to play games where the aim wasn't to win or to get only right answers, and particularly those where you learn from mistakes. Twenty Questions, for example, is great because you have to ask a lot of questions to which the answer is "no" in order to gather more clues as to the answer. "Guess my number" is also fun, where the person who has chosen the mystery number answers "too big" or "too small." Strategic guesses help narrow down the range of possible answers. We played a lot of co-operative board games where we shared strategies and problem-solved together.

 

I encouraged them to take up pursuits that contained plenty of individualized challenge but without a lot of simplistic benchmarks. For us the biggie has been musical instrument learning, in a co-operative non-competitive community of fellow learners -- with no participation in adjudicated festivals, competitions, examinations or anything of the sort. They started at age 4. By the time they were 7 or 8, they'd had years of experience at working consistently at something challenging, and they could call on this experience to help them through challenges in other areas. I could say "Well, if this was violin, what would you tell yourself to do?" and they'd have an answer. 

 

I supported them vigorously in problem-solving their way through frustrations and mistakes while doing music practicing. This was our number one arena for tackling these issues. We had many mantras: "Slow it down. Break it apart. Mix it up. Take a break." "Isolate the problem." "Don't expect to fix it today: promise five good tries that will get you five steps closer to that goal for tomorrow." I made recordings of their performances along the way so that they could objectively appreciate their cumulative progress. 

 

I modelled mistake-making and imperfection. I purposely took up things that were outside my comfort zone so that they could see me being a bumbling noob. I persisted at things that I wasn't particularly good at much longer and more publicly than I would have been otherwise inclined to. I shared my goofs and embarrassing moments liberally and unabashedly at dinner time every evening. 

 

We involved them in family pursuits that required long-term persistence to reach the payoff. Lots and lots of these! Designing a new deck, wrecking the old deck, building the new one. Gutting and rebuilding the kitchen. Raising laying hens and their progeny ... and selling and eating the eggs, eating the meat. Using the manure to fertilize a corner of the lawn to turn it into a garden in which we planted veggies to tend and harvest and eat and save seeds from to grow next year's garden. Growing and collecting herbs to harvest and dry to blend and package to sell as tea at the market to finance the purchase of an iPod touch. 

 

We supported and fed their self-directed passions, because we saw that when they were passionate about something they would problem-solve creatively and with incredible drive and persistence. Even when their passions seemed pointless, or eccentric, or repetitious, or frivolous ... we figured their commitment to them was teaching them something important in an arena unencumbered by others' expectations. So we encouraged them to delve deeply, to spend hours and hours at them, even when those passions were in areas that many parents might have cast a disapproving eye upon. (Computer games, nail polish, racy fan-fiction sites .... )

 

We avoided praise in favour of appreciative feedback concerning process and engagement. Instead of saying "You're playing that Vivaldi beautifully!" I'd say "I notice that you've been working a lot on clarity of the sixteenth notes in the Vivaldi. I can hear the difference."

 

Hope that helps give you some ideas!

 

Miranda


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#9 of 13 Old 04-27-2012, 09:02 AM
 
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Mine is similar - and it has nothing to do with academic subjects. 

 

At home, we mostly sidestep the issue since she can pursue whatever interests her and stops whenever things become too frustrating.  What happens is if it's something she's interested, despite the early frustrations/meltdown/etc, invariably she'd go back and resume the activity at some later time.  If she doesn't, we let it go. 

 

At school, her teacher has encouraged her to help other kids on subjects they're struggling.  This is probably not an option if you prefer acceleration for your DD.

 

Anyway, helping others has changed her.  The point was to show her that being frustrated is a very common part of learning.  The other point is she learns to help others deal with that frustration.  What I've noticed is things are no longer black-and-white for her - it's not just about getting things right/wrong anymore.  She appreciates progress no matter how big or small and can offer very specific and constructive feedback - she cannot be mean to other kids when they don't "get" it is how she put it.  In turn, she's not as hard on herself either. Also, when things start to be frustrating, she breaks things down to smaller steps - she noticed kids make fewer mistakes this way.  So far, it seems like being patient with others help her to be more patient with herself.

 

To be clear, we don't make her help other kids, neither does her teacher - but she keeps at it because she has gotten some satisfaction out of it too.  DD was so proud that one of the kids she helped started helping others. 

 

OP, I don't know if anything here applies to your DD but hope you get some ideas.

 

 

 

 

 


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#10 of 13 Old 04-27-2012, 10:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Breathless Wonder View Post

I was in G&T as a kid, and had the same issues.  For me, it stemmed in part from being a perfectionist, in part from having low self esteem, and in part from being a praise junkie.  Failure simply wasn't an option, and anything that could result in even a small mistake was avoided. 
 

 

All of this was very true for me as well.  A rough home life where nothing was ever "good enough" didn't help, but I do think alot of it also comes from having things come easily, from having others label you as a "smart" kid - it becomes central to your identity.  You are used to everything being easy, because you are "smart" - if something isn't easy, and you might fail, well that can't happen because it just destroys your whole sense of self - if you are so "smart" you should be able to do it, so if you can't, you aren't "smart" after all - kwim?

 

So to preserve that label, it's easier just to avoid things.  I think failure/struggling is something that humans get used to over time, from practice - when you don't have that practice (because things come easily most of the time) it feels like the end of the world.  Just like when children are small, and they don't know that you will come back when you leave, or what will happen when the lights go out, etc.  You have to learn to trust that it will work out ok.  I think the example you shared about the spelling words is a great one - and something to replicate and build on! thumb.gif

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

I kept them out of almost all competitive and comparative situations until adolescence, and that included school and schooling and traditionally graded academic curricula. If they came out on top, it was a shallow victory because invariably needed to put very little work into the achievement. (They also felt terrible about the other children who might be struggling.) If they weren't sure they could come out on top, they would become extremely anxious and/or withdrawn. As young children it was clear they weren't ready to work through all those feelings. We unschooled and they had almost no awareness of or curiosity about where they stacked up relative to agemates. They did a lot of multi-age, multi-level activities, but nothing competitive or "levelled."

 

I encouraged them to play games where the aim wasn't to win or to get only right answers, and particularly those where you learn from mistakes. Twenty Questions, for example, is great because you have to ask a lot of questions to which the answer is "no" in order to gather more clues as to the answer. "Guess my number" is also fun, where the person who has chosen the mystery number answers "too big" or "too small." Strategic guesses help narrow down the range of possible answers. We played a lot of co-operative board games where we shared strategies and problem-solved together.

 

I encouraged them to take up pursuits that contained plenty of individualized challenge but without a lot of simplistic benchmarks. For us the biggie has been musical instrument learning, in a co-operative non-competitive community of fellow learners -- with no participation in adjudicated festivals, competitions, examinations or anything of the sort. They started at age 4. By the time they were 7 or 8, they'd had years of experience at working consistently at something challenging, and they could call on this experience to help them through challenges in other areas. I could say "Well, if this was violin, what would you tell yourself to do?" and they'd have an answer. 

 

I supported them vigorously in problem-solving their way through frustrations and mistakes while doing music practicing. This was our number one arena for tackling these issues. We had many mantras: "Slow it down. Break it apart. Mix it up. Take a break." "Isolate the problem." "Don't expect to fix it today: promise five good tries that will get you five steps closer to that goal for tomorrow." I made recordings of their performances along the way so that they could objectively appreciate their cumulative progress. 

 

I modelled mistake-making and imperfection. I purposely took up things that were outside my comfort zone so that they could see me being a bumbling noob. I persisted at things that I wasn't particularly good at much longer and more publicly than I would have been otherwise inclined to. I shared my goofs and embarrassing moments liberally and unabashedly at dinner time every evening. 

 

We involved them in family pursuits that required long-term persistence to reach the payoff. Lots and lots of these! Designing a new deck, wrecking the old deck, building the new one. Gutting and rebuilding the kitchen. Raising laying hens and their progeny ... and selling and eating the eggs, eating the meat. Using the manure to fertilize a corner of the lawn to turn it into a garden in which we planted veggies to tend and harvest and eat and save seeds from to grow next year's garden. Growing and collecting herbs to harvest and dry to blend and package to sell as tea at the market to finance the purchase of an iPod touch. 

 

We supported and fed their self-directed passions, because we saw that when they were passionate about something they would problem-solve creatively and with incredible drive and persistence. Even when their passions seemed pointless, or eccentric, or repetitious, or frivolous ... we figured their commitment to them was teaching them something important in an arena unencumbered by others' expectations. So we encouraged them to delve deeply, to spend hours and hours at them, even when those passions were in areas that many parents might have cast a disapproving eye upon. (Computer games, nail polish, racy fan-fiction sites .... )

 

We avoided praise in favour of appreciative feedback concerning process and engagement. Instead of saying "You're playing that Vivaldi beautifully!" I'd say "I notice that you've been working a lot on clarity of the sixteenth notes in the Vivaldi. I can hear the difference."

 

Hope that helps give you some ideas!

 

Miranda

 

Miranda - these are awesome suggestions!!!  I especially like the family projects, and you showing them your struggles, because kids like that (like me) really, really need that modeled for them - they need to know it's ok.  I would also encourage avoiding competition - I HATED it as a kid!  Especially academic-related (which seems counter-intuitive) - I would fail every spelling bee on purpose, hide my report cards, etc.  It was awful.  I think introducing things like musical instruments or perhaps solo sports (I enjoyed figure skating) to model perseverance and give them a touchstone for a time they worked through something is great.  Knowing that it's ok to take a break is important.  Finally, the praise issue is HUGE - I am working on this already (my son is 12 months) because my parents were heavy on the characterization style (i.e., "you ARE this or that" - good or bad - not focused on the effort or specifics).  This works for discipline, too, so your kids don't fall apart.  It also sends a message that you care enough to pay attention, not just give them flippant, effusive praise.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MamaMunchkin View Post

Anyway, helping others has changed her.  The point was to show her that being frustrated is a very common part of learning.  The other point is she learns to help others deal with that frustration.  What I've noticed is things are no longer black-and-white for her - it's not just about getting things right/wrong anymore.  She appreciates progress no matter how big or small and can offer very specific and constructive feedback - she cannot be mean to other kids when they don't "get" it is how she put it.  In turn, she's not as hard on herself either. Also, when things start to be frustrating, she breaks things down to smaller steps - she noticed kids make fewer mistakes this way.  So far, it seems like being patient with others help her to be more patient with herself.

 

This is a really good idea for developing some empathy with others, and a good model to be easier on herself! It's excellent for social skills and just for life. I really like this approach. smile.gif

 

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#11 of 13 Old 04-27-2012, 11:47 AM
 
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nak...

 

 

i couldn't not reply to this thread!

 

i was a gifted kid who got straight a's, skipped a grade (all without really trying), and totally fell apart when things became challenging after getting into a very competetive school with other smart kids. my home life was very chaotic and i did not have good habits or any real guidance around schoolwork. i was very reluctant to try new things and still have to get over that at times.

 

my dd is similarly gifted but a naturally very disorganized and forgetful person. however, she has a more stable home life and a  helicopter mom :) she recently skipped 4th grade into an accelerated 5th/6th grade and is being challenged. she is 10 - i think this kind of stuff comes up a lot at this age.

 

these smarty-pants kids are often told, or they overhear their parents and others remark that they ARE smart, gifted, bright, advanced, precocious etc. etc. like it's something you are born with that is static. i have been working on the language around and to dd about her achievements, focusing on how hard she is working instead - "wow, i can tell you put a lot of work into that paper, your ideas are very well written which makes it a very interesting read"! 

 

i think the language is really important...

 

 

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#12 of 13 Old 05-10-2012, 07:32 AM
 
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Thank you for typing that all out Miranda.  It was quite reassuring!  My kids do attend school but one of the beauties of being in a district that is "in need of improvement" is that it is a very low stress academic culture and not much competition on that front.  My DD is 8 & has been taking piano for two years.  Many of her meltdowns are over piano - not being able to practice alone & having frustration working on it with Dad (who is very laid back).  The only area that struck me is that I don't do activities outside my comfort zone and never had.  Something to think about.

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#13 of 13 Old 05-10-2012, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for the responses! This gives me a lot to think about and put into action. I love the idea of challenging her with music. Her dad and I have been asking her if she wants to plan an instrument for the last 2 years and she has declined. She just doesn't like to try new things. I am going to start encouraging her a little more strongly than I have before. 

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