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#31 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 08:12 AM
 
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I don't think there is a "sweet spot", but rather each situation is unique. Listening well and responding to what your child wants or needs in a particular situation is key. Sometimes that may be leaving the child to do it alone, sometimes it may be to offer help and advice, sometimes it may be to do something yourself, but to the child's specifications. I go back to my earlier remark. Do what you can to help your child acheive his or her goals. If you value your child's goals, chances are your child will value them as well, and stick to it to completion.
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#32 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 08:22 AM
 
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Whether you're an unschooler or not, I think it's important to help kids reach out into their Zone of Proximal Development not with a push from behind, but by helping them find something out front beyond it that they want, that is meaningful to them, to pull them forward. That's when intervention and support at sticking with things is going to be well-received and leave a lasting impression. 

 

My teens are now in school, and they are being pushed from behind sometimes by their school curriculum. Middle dd (newly 14) is in academic chemistry, a year or more ahead of her grade-year, and hasn't had the systematic science curriculum in previous years to prepare her for this, so she's having to make up some ground. It's a fair bit of work, and she doesn't exactly love chemistry, nor is it particularly meaningful to her. But in the past she has learned how to persist with things -- by being supported in sticking with big learning tasks in areas that were very meaningful to her. When grit was a trait she was only beginning to develop, we used areas she loved to teach her how to break down big tasks and stick with things to see them through. Now she can apply those lessons to any area where they're helpful. 

 

I don't think it would have been particularly efficient or effective to try to teach her grit within the realm of chemistry. But because she learned grit in areas she loved, she can apply it here now. Just like with Emaye's ds with the magnetic cube: if he'd been made to persist through to completing the cube because it was deemed an appropriate challenge and a good way to learn persistence, I'll bet the lessons he learned would have been "mom and dad are pushy, I don't like magnetix, and thank goodness I finally escaped that situation." Because it was self-motivated, I expect he's learned a much better lesson, that with persistence and determination he can triumph over things that at first seem impossible. Same task, same achievement, but depending on the motivation there will be an entirely different take-home message. Learning grit can be a very uncomfortable process for some kids, and I think that when we want our kids to navigate areas of emotional discomfort, we should make sure it's for something that they, and not just we, are going to truly value at the end of the day. Otherwise, 'grit' might not be what they really internalize from the experience.

 

Miranda

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#33 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 09:24 AM
 
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Originally Posted by eirual View Post

This is SO TRUE!! DS1 is definitely a perfectionist.

 

....with that in mind, how does one deal with perfectionism?

 

Point it out to him when sticking with something led to success.  Ask him questions to get him to think about his motivation.  "Are you frustrated because you think you should have been able to do this the first time? Are you afraid to try this because you're afraid you won't do it right?"  Just getting him to think about his own thoughts might help him find his own solutions. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

I don't think there is a "sweet spot", but rather each situation is unique.

 

Or, there's a sweet spot, but it can't always be discerned where or what it is, and there isn't anything an outsider should 'do' about it. 

 

OP you're right, you're child is only 7 y.o., and you will develop a feel for when/where to assist with practice.  Just in time for your child to have a developmental jump and you have to start over together.  smile.gif

 

Keep projects age appropriate. Evaluate your expectations in context with something like Bates' Your Seven Year Old (or whatever else).  Be a guide, "You do this yourself. If you get stuck, I'm here to help/advise you. Then you finish."

 

When possible keep it really relevant. Someone mentioned 4H, I think?  Raising animals, that are engaging, lovable and completely dependent on you, makes lessons much more relevant.  Having to multiply or divide how many cups of feed is necessary might be a much better way to learn arithmetic. Maybe as much as possible work lessons into practical, hands on projects.


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#34 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 09:58 AM
 
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Sorry, I haven't had time to read through all the posts but will later as I find this a very interesting topic!

 

I wanted to share a link to an article on "success" and the fact that one researcher has found "grit" to be the most important factor, and how to instill it.

 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/back-to-school/why-kids-need-to-fail-to-succeed-in-school/article4513436/?page=all

 

I do agree with this author that kids need to "fail" and I think that as a culture we are going to have major issues when a generation of kids grows up who's parents were so concerned about hurting their children's self-esteem that they never let them "fail" at anything, and thus never let them test themselves.  We can build up our kid's self esteem and let them experience failure.  I would argue that success following failure builds self esteem far better than always having easy "wins".


N, wife to my goofball K partners.gif and mamma to my EC grad D (July 2010) and my new little love S (May 2013).  Exploring the uncharted territory of tandem nursing with my two boys.

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#35 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 10:01 AM
 
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Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

 

Point it out to him when sticking with something led to success.  Ask him questions to get him to think about his motivation.  "Are you frustrated because you think you should have been able to do this the first time? Are you afraid to try this because you're afraid you won't do it right?"  Just getting him to think about his own thoughts might help him find his own solutions. 

 

My 8yo likes to be given homemade math "tests".  She tells me what she wants ("division" or "addition by tens"), and I make up a sheet for her.  I usually start with something easy, make it harder but not tricky, and throw in one or two tricky ones in there to see how she handles them.  What I've found was helpful, after a couple of discouraging ones where she gave up, was asking her to talk about the equations.  Now, she will tell me which ones were so easy as to be boring (I always put a couple in anyway, just so she sees how easy some things have become), ones that were so challenging as to be discouraging, and which ones had the right amount of challenge for her.  

 

She knows that she can give me feedback as to what she wants and needs.  It helps me see what level she is working at, and construct new "tests" that can push just enough to keep her interested and challenged.  (I guess "pull" might be a better word?  I loved your post, Miranda!)

 

 

 

When possible keep it really relevant. Someone mentioned 4H, I think?  Raising animals, that are engaging, lovable and completely dependent on you, makes lessons much more relevant.  Having to multiply or divide how many cups of feed is necessary might be a much better way to learn arithmetic. Maybe as much as possible work lessons into practical, hands on projects.

 

Animals are incredibly motivating.  And talk about teaching lessons other than instant gratification!  You can't hurry a pullet into laying.  You can't chase a chicken to teach her to come to you.  You absolutely need to build a relationship of trust with animals, and (with some species more than others) this takes time and patience.   Of course, this is not why we have animals!  We have them because they are a joy, and the lessons learned are secondary to their purpose.

 

If one of my kids was nearly paralyzed by their perfectionism, if it was chronic and debilitating, I would try looking to horses for a solution, and a wonderful, understanding instructor whose focus was on building trust between horse and rider and not competition.  There is something so sweet and magical about horses.  

 

We are lucky that, although my oldest has struggles with perfectionism, she seems to be putting enough experiences under her belt that I am seeing this quality change into something positive.  The negative aspects are slowly--slowly-- being replaced with a certain measure of confidence.


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#36 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 10:57 AM
 
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I have not read the whole thread (or even very much of it - I will, though, this type of stuff is right up my alley)

 

I would like to say that I struggled, very much so, with when to encourage them to stick with something/develop capacity to stick to something…and when to let it be.

 

In the past few years, as my children have aged (they are 10-16)  I have struggled less….I see more internal drive and worry less.  I am not sure where it comes from.  Is it something that kicks in, developmentally, in adolescents?  I think it is somewhat.  Is it that skills, the kind of skills that cause us to wring our hands in worry (you know reading, writing, basic math) are often mastered in older kids?  

 

I do not know.  I don't want to say "don't worry - it comes in time." - even thought that has been my experience.  I would be interested in knowing if other parents of adolescents noticed "stick-to-it" ability blooming in adolescence…..

 

I would say:

-do provide lots of access to computers and libraries, etc, so they can search out stuff that interests them

-do role model problems solving with them to find solutions to things 

-don't micromanage their interests.  It is their interest.


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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#37 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 11:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post
 

 

When my first two kids were struggling with writing, I started teaching myself machining, and it gave me a lot more sympathy for precisely how difficult writing is, especially for a perfectionist.  Perfectionists see the flaws in everything they do, and also how effortlessly adults and older kids can perform these tasks they're struggling with, and it's emotionally challenging to cope with what they see as their own failure.  And then adults tend to brush off the difficulties because we don't remember what it was like.  Neither how hard it is to learn to write nor how hard it is to work through being bad at something everyone else seems to do well.

 

FWIW, when I am learning something new in front of my kids, they seem to be more inclined to take risks too.  

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

Responding to the original post and question.
One way to *kill* a stick-to-it attitude is to interrupt, minimize, or otherwise derail the child's natural desire to complete a child task. That means completing the Lego plane, see the end of the movie, finish the book, whatever is important. So unless the there is a *very* good reason to deny the opportunity to complete childish projects when they are young, let them finish. As they get older, the choices of what is important will change, and you should just keep supporting them.
In other words, the trait is already there, just don't destroy it. Look for it, and nurture it instead.

 

I like both the above.

 

I also like the points about caring for animals - although any project where other people are relying on you to play a part can be motivating to a child who has stick-to-it problems.  It is easy to drop out of art classes, a little harder to drop out of dance if you are part of a show, you know?  Owning an animal (that the whole family wants!) can teach responsibility and install some discipline as it exists, it needs to be fed/go out…you just can't "skip it"

Quote:
Originally Posted by eirual View Post

 

 

Everyone's brought up good points though and I appreciate the discussion. SweetSilver, my original question is just a general question for strategies to encourage children to develop some grit or drive and not assume they are helpless and are to just accept what the world throws at them and throw their hands up in response.

 

Assume they are helpless….

 

I think we need to look at an activity and decide if that is what is really going on before problem solving.

 

There can be lots of reasons a kids throw up their hands at an activity:

1.  They are not developmentally ready for it

2.  Perfectionism

3.  They just are not that engaged in the activity

4.  Some sort of learned helplessness, I can't do it attitude (even though they probably could do it)

 

They all have different remedies, you know?

 

For 1 and 3 the adults need to back off, for 2 and 4 they probably need to intervene.

 

I hope others come along and comment on learned helplessness if you need comments, because it is a little out of my experience.  I do suspect role modelling positive self-talk and that people can teach themselves things, is key.  Let's say you want to change the faucets but do not know how.  Role model getting a book, talking to an expert…and then doing it.  It would be even more impressive if you struggled to get it done, but got it done anyways. wink1.gif  Taking baby steps might be helpful in overcoming learned helplessness, as is knowing when to say "nope - you can do it yourself" and then finding something else to engage in so you do not do it for them, but let the child figure out, and experience the joy, of doing it themselves. 

 

Lastly, and I hope this is not outside the scope of the conversation, but I would love a conversation on how to develop "grit" if your interests are more generalised that specialized.  This is not a slam (at all!) at anyone who has used specializing to foster grit, or found specializing fosters grit - but some kids do not find that "one thing" that they love and can use a a springboard for personal development.  Some people are generalists - they go through a smorgasbord of loves.


There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

Book and herb loving mama to 1 preteen and 2 teens (when did that happen?).  We travel, go to school, homeschool, live rurally, eat our veggies, spend too much time...

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#38 of 42 Old 12-10-2012, 02:14 PM
 
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Sweetsilver, that kind of feedback for math lessons is exactly what I craved throughout school.  It would have been heavenly!  And I guess that's one of the benefits of homeschooling. smile.gif


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#39 of 42 Old 12-12-2012, 11:10 AM
 
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Both I and my dh are perfectionists. Parenting in general has been a lesson in letting some of the perfectionism go. Both kids (5 and 8) have perfectionist streaks and will sometimes stop before they begin something because they can't make it perfect. While I'm sure there are genetics one can't avoid, I've tried to be aware and observant of the perfectionist face I'm presenting them with, that they learn from every day -- the what I do, not what I say. And we talk about it. We all remind ourselves that "it doesn't have to be perfect". And I go out of my way to try to live this and speak it out loud with my own stuff. I am not perfect -- even about trying not to be a perfectionist -- ha! But I have found the whole thing -- this modeling that "it's OK" -- to be rather theraputic.

 

I also let them do their own work as much as humanly possible. When they were small I actually *sat* on my hands! I often see other parents correcting their kids even during play or taking things out of their hands and doing it for them. When do these kids get to feel their own sense of accomplishment, even in the simple things? When Mothering was in print, there was an article once about over-praising and how it actually detracts from the child being able to revel in their own success -- they know when they've been successful, they don't need to hear it from us. Sometimes I find this difficult, but strive to allow them this...and I can see it sometimes! They puff up and stand taller and glow, as if they're looking inside themselves -- all in blessed silence. I think knowing these feelings of accomplishment help fuel the fire of persistence later on.

 

Finally, though it drives me crazy, I try to allow them their stubborness when I can. I tell them they still need to be polite and tolerant of others and that sometimes we just won't have the time, but otherwise I try to allow them to stubbornly finish some crazy thing....whatever it is they MUST DO! My own stubborness has helped me many times in my life -- I want them to have theirs at their disposal too.

 

The Highly Sensitive Child by Elaine Aron touches on perfectionism and how when it's combined with sensitivity, a child may watch and observe and think and think and watch and watch before attempting something. This is actually okay. She gives lots of great insight into supporting sensitivity in children, especially in our culture.

 

In terms of generalists...my dh is good at reminding me that everything is a process. It's helped me appreciate my own generalist tendencies. I can go ahead and knit and enjoy it, for example, without having to end up with the taj mahal. So I try to talk about this with the boys also...and model it. I guess I don't see finishing every endeavor as an all or nothing situation. Just because one of us quits something doesn't mean we can't see other things through just fine...I think the skill to choose what to follow through on is important.

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#40 of 42 Old 12-12-2012, 01:20 PM
 
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Great discussion!  Just chiming in to say that I had parents who didn't push me to complete tasks or develop discipline, and as an adult I regret it.  I am now in my early thirties and am finally starting to internalize what my therapist told me: "You can do hard things."  As a mom, I definitely try to be sensitive to pushing my 7 yo dd to do something that *I* think will be "good for her" while also showing her that there is great reward in completing a task, even an unpleasant one.  As a perfectionist myself, I think modeling "grit" for my daughter is the best way I can instill it in her.

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#41 of 42 Old 12-12-2012, 02:22 PM
 
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finally starting to internalize what my therapist told me: "You can do hard things."

 

 

Isn't amazing how such a simple statement can be so meaningful? Like a revelation.


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#42 of 42 Old 12-13-2012, 06:09 PM
 
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I model it.

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