Any advice for helping 8 yr old with persistence?
So, this is something I struggle with very frequently. My oldest son is 8 years old. He's always been pretty easy going, of totally average intelligence, slightly anxious, he attends Montessori school and does well, he has a good number of close friends. The issue of lack of persistence has been increasingly noticible to me in the last year or so. Unfortunately, one of the reasons is that his younger brother (who will be 4 next month) is the *complete* opposite in this department - he is incredibly independent, determined and persistent. My eldest will try some mundane task like opening a container of blueberries, or putting together a building toy and after one (often-times half-hearted) attempt, get completely frustrated and very dramatically ask for help. On a number of ocassions, my younger son has stepped in and offered to help and been able to accomplish the task that his older brother could or would not. Another example is shoe tying: my husband really wanted him to start learning after kindergarten but my son was showing no interest. i decided it wasn't worth pushing the matter - he would eventually start noticing that all his classmates were learning to wear tie shoes and get embarrased that he couldn't and that would be his motivation. Well, 1st and 2nd grade came and went and NO motivation on his part. I finally tossed out his velcros this summer and bought him a pair of tie shoes - he had no choice. He grumbled alot about practicing but slowly was getting the hang of it. I was so proud of him. Within 2 weeks, he discovered how to get them on and off without tying them. Sigh. Finally, homework. His school does what I believe is an amazing job of giving totally reasonable amounts of homework that they have a week to complete and with each year, they increase the amount slightly to help the kids cope and learn to manage their time as they get older. He has a summer homework packet - again, totally doable. But sitting down to do ONE page, front and back, you would think I had strapped him to some sort of torture device! He uses his slopply handwriting and then gets mad at me for having him erase and write neatly, with proper capitalization and punctuation; he expects me to give him the answers immediately if he shows any sign of being unsure; in short, he is Miserable and I get SO frustrated. I tell him: All I ask is that you (1)read the directions and follow them, (2)write neatly, (3)do your best. And that's exactly what they ask of you at school.
I recently read Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine and totally loved what she had to say about letting our kids *struggle* - it made me look more closely at my interactions with him. I have certainly never been a hovering type that would step in and do everything for him but I have increasingly been reminding myself to encourage him to try again and again after 1 failed attempt instead of giving in to his request for help.
Sorry this is so long but I feel so frustrated and honestly, bad for my son. I need some tools for helping him develop persistence and determination and pride in his work.