Any advice for helping 8 yr old with persistence? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 08-11-2014, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.
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#2 of 5 Old 08-14-2014, 12:11 PM
 
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Subbing. My DD is only 4, but she's exactly the same way. Hers extends to self-soothing (If you don't hug me, I'll never calm down because I don't know how!!!), which causes a lot of problems with behavior. I started seeing this in her in infancy, and thought for a while that there must be something wrong with her muscles or something sensory causing her to be so "eh, eh" with her efforts and then just give up. I'm still not convinced that's not part of it, as it still seems that she doesn't "get" how to exert physical effort the way other kids do. Might be something to look into for your son? Are you absolutely positive that he's capable of doing the things he gives up on?
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#3 of 5 Old 08-15-2014, 07:07 PM
 
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I guess I am a little curious whether he has anything going on with processing or fine motor skills that is getting in the way. Sometimes something that has nothing to do with intelligence but is a learning difference can really impact the way kids do things. Best to rule this out before judging as laziness or lack of persistence.

 
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#4 of 5 Old 08-16-2014, 11:26 AM
 
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You say he's a little anxious - I wonder if he's shutting down in response to your anxiety about him not being able to do things. I would disengage and try not to care if he ties his shoes or opens the blueberries. I like the phrase (from the great book "How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen...) "sometimes it helps." So he starts getting frustrated with the blueberries, and you say "sometimes it helps if you pull up on the corner of the box" and walk away and go about your business. With the homework, "sometimes it helps if you focus really well for ten minutes, then take a quick break. Let me know if you want me to set the timer." And walk away. He might never be a person who has to be a high achiever in every pursuit (my dd isn't like this either), but if you put the ball in his court, he might surprise you with what he gets passionate about!

-Ecstatic mommy to amazing DD, 2/07 :
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#5 of 5 Old 08-16-2014, 03:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I really appreciate all of these insightful responses full of great ideas! Especially the comments about possible processing issues - there are a few other areas of his learning that make me think that this could be something to look into. Love the "sometimes is helps" suggestion!! I really need to read that book - it's constantly coming up! Thanks again, everyone!
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