constant need for approval - repetitive - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-27-2010, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know what else to call it. DD10 will ask repeatedly if we like something she has done or made. We try to answer every time she asks, but it gets annoying, and it really seems odd. I will look her in the eye and respond the first few times, but eventually, it really gets on my nerves, and I want her to just move on and stop asking. I often point out that "I said yes the first 5 times you ask, do you really need to ask again?" I know that isn't the right reaction, but AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Example: she has made 3 potholders with a loom - you know the type where you criss-cross loops and weave them into a square. She finished one 2 days ago, and we have said it's lovely. She started one yesterday, and we have responded to her queries: "don't you like it?" "doesn't it match? do you like the pattern? does it have a pattern?" She hasn't even finished it, and she's obsessed with my approval of it. She has a very short attention span to projects. I suppose that's partly my fault because I usually have at least 5 projects going on at one time. The difference is that I *finish* mine. I'm to the point where I don't want to encourage her because she is unlikely to follow through and finish anything. (I do NOT say that to her.)

We don't follow a routine or curriculum. Very free-spirited around here. That used to work for them, but I'm wondering if that's part of the problem ... if it IS a problem, I don't know.

She's also exceedingly stubborn. I'm worried that maybe we're doing her a disservice by allowing her so much freedom with the education. In anger, I've threatened to send her to school - told her that the government requires us to teach her, and if she won't listen to US, then she has to go to school. (she says that she would just sit there and not do their homework) I know I shouldn't say that, but it's really irritating. She reads very very well, but if I try to guide her to reading harder books, she refuses.

She thinks math is hard, and she won't listen if we try to give her memory-tricks. DH & I are math geeks, and it's very frustrating for us to watch her STILL having to count on her fingers just to add 7+3. I've got cuisenaire rods, and we're trying to work on how to make math fun - but that's another problem entirely!!!

Right now, I need to know if the need for repetitive affirmation is normal.
--janis

p.s. my dd's are 10, 6 & 1

p.p.s. I suppose part of my issue is that I rarely got my mother's approval, as a child or as an adult - so from that perspective, I feel at odds with this constant approval-seeking.

Mama to 3 girls 12,8,3
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Old 02-27-2010, 07:02 PM
 
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. DD10 will ask repeatedly if we like something she has done or made... I often point out that "I said yes the first 5 times you ask, do you really need to ask again?"

...Example: she has made 3 potholders with a loom - you know the type where you criss-cross loops and weave them into a square. She finished one 2 days ago, and we have said it's lovely. She started one yesterday, and we have responded to her queries: "don't you like it?" "doesn't it match? do you like the pattern? does it have a pattern?"
From what you've written here, it sounds like she's looking for more feedback than just "Yes, I like it." What if, when she first asks you if you like it, you offer some further information..."I like the way you alternated the colors" or something specific, yk?

About her not finishing projects (although, you did say she just finished a potholder) fwiw, I often have several projects going at once. Some, I finish, some I grow bored with, or decide I don't like the way it's going and abandon them. : Have you asked her about the ones she doesn't finish? Has she simply forgotten them or is there a reason she doesn't want to finish them?

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Old 02-27-2010, 08:53 PM
 
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I agree with SagMom. Give specific descriptions of what you see in her projects. It will be more meaningful and may even generate more conversation about how she works on projects.

This idea is discussed in the book "How to Talk to Kids So They Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk." My DD is very stubborn and has perfectionist tendencies. We've been trying to encourage her to be more forgiving with herself but it's been hard. I found this book to be very helpful even though it was written quite some time ago.

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Old 02-28-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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You mentioned that your own experience of getting along without your mother's approval makes you feel at odds with the constant approval seeking. Might it be that, because of that, your own comments don't come across with as much juice as she needs to really feel them? Might she be looking for more enthusiasm and connection about it?

In regard to attention span, that's something that's come up a few times in the forum, and my own thinking (and personal experience) with that is that oftentimes the formation of the creative idea and the beginning of the project can satisfy the creative impulse enough that the rest just doesn't seem all that important to the person who started it. In other words, the imagination's experience and the first work on it filled the need. I realize that's not a good way to go through life - beginning and abandoning projects - I'm just saying that it's not always as uncaring as it can seem.

Something kind of related to this is how the artistic painting process can work. There's something called process painting in which the aim is merely to star painting and let the images come without attachment to outcome or product. It's a very satisfying and enriching process - however, it's different from what you're describing in that you are finishing something, just not with the intention of the product being the aim. I'm definitely mixing apples and oranges with this example - but I think there actually is some overlap in the way it works with some people. I think some just find themselves finished with a project before the project itself is finished. Again, I'm not necessarily advocating that way of doing things, but just maybe shedding some light on how the person might be feeling a lot more finished than one would think from looking at the unfinished product. Been there/done that. And sometimes, as in the case of several projects I'm enjoying working on right now, a long time may go by before the impulse comes to get to the finish.

There's a wonderful book called The Open Mind: Exploring the 6 Patterns of Natural Intelligence, by Dawna Markova, that can sometimes be a big help in understanding big personality differences. Many years ago, I gave it to my husband, a much more left brain person, and he was amazed. He said he always thought he knew a lot about how people think, but he hadn't realized there were such different natural ways the thinking process can work. He finally understood why I behaved so differently from him. He admitted he always thought I was just being lazy or stubborn because I didn't do things the way he thought they should be done - but all of a sudden he clearly realized that my whole thinking process was simply different from his.

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Old 02-28-2010, 10:00 AM
 
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... my own thinking (and personal experience) with that is that oftentimes the formation of the creative idea and the beginning of the project can satisfy the creative impulse enough that the rest just doesn't seem all that important to the person who started it. In other words, the imagination's experience and the first work on it filled the need.
In talking about the way our kids and we ourselves operate, a friend once said to me that she thinks there are "idea people" and "project people." Some people are good at, and thrive on the creative, brainstorming beginnings of things and others are that way about the actual doing and follow-through. The world needs both. I thought it was an interesting theory and it makes sense when applied to the people I know, to one extent or another. (Of course, there are also people who completely stick with a project and all its details from idea to finish.)

I'm not offering that as an excuse to never finish anything, but looking at things from that angle made me realize that not finishing something doesn't mean one is lazy or incompetent or any other negative--sometimes it just means their strenghts lie elsewhere.

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Old 02-28-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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My oldest dd is 10 and homeschooled also. She often does the same thing, asks numerous times if we like something she's made. Fwiw I think its normal, for her. It fits her personality. I think she likes us to express interest in what she is doing, as well as show appreciation for something she has spent time on. That said, yes, sometimes I find the repetition slightly annoying. I just remind myself that showing interest for a minute or two means so much to her. Its the sorta similar to when dd or ds starts talking about a show and its characters I really have no interest in, or dp starts talking about how he fixed something maintenance wise. I may not be interested in exactly what they are talking about, but I am very interested in listening to them and what they are interested in, yk? I agree with other posters, I like to express something about the details of the project rather than a generic I like it. Also from listening to dd and her similar age friends, I do think there is a natural inclination at this age to behave this way with peers. There is a lot of expressing and comparing likes and dislikes, and asking do you like this, that, what they think is best, their favorite. Maybe I'm way off, but it all seems related to me.

With the Math thing, my dd says she hates Math this year. She's never expressed that before. I'm definitely looking at different curriculum/approach for next year in hopes it will be a better fit. I think its because she is being constantly challenged and she truly finds it hard. New things are being introduced constantly. She sort of shuts down and doesn't want to do it mentally, but once I sit with her and start it with her, she is fine and gets it quickly.

I don't think it is necessarily wrong to tell her that it is the law that she does some type of schooling. I've let both of my older children know this. But yeah, probably not in anger. It is the truth though. And I've asked myself lately, isn't it okay for some kids to express they don't like some aspects of school? I mean just because they're homeschooled does that really mean all children will jump for joy at the thought of doing Math? I do think my children feel free to express themselves at home in ways they wouldn't in the general public or at a brick and mortar school. We've discussed how what we say/do can affect other members of the family and if its negatively we do need to exert some level of control over ourselves. I've expressed to them that their complaining/whining does affect me negatively so I ask that they curb it a bit. I don't mind them expressing a dislike or whatever, but within a reasonable way, yk?

I do think some kids in some situations thrive with more direction and some routine. If you think your daughter may be happier, try it out. It doesn't have to be a complete overhaul of your current life, try implementing one or two specific things, daily or on the same days every week and see how it goes.

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