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  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-13-2012 06:09 PM
homeschoolingmama

I model it.

12-12-2012 02:22 PM
journeymom
Quote:
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.

12-12-2012 01:20 PM
CarenSwan

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.

12-12-2012 11:10 AM
bellymoon

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.

12-10-2012 02:14 PM
journeymom

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

12-10-2012 11:40 AM
kathymuggle
Quote:
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.

12-10-2012 10:57 AM
kathymuggle

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.

12-10-2012 10:01 AM
SweetSilver
Quote:
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.

12-10-2012 09:58 AM
nstewart

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".

12-10-2012 09:24 AM
journeymom
Quote:
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.

12-10-2012 08:22 AM
moominmamma

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

12-10-2012 08:12 AM
pek64 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.
12-10-2012 07:59 AM
SweetSilver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

 

In the end, he did it and I have a picture of him holding the cube, his tear streaken face graced by a giant smile.  

 

So sweet!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

With the example of the cube, it sounds as though the child wanted very much to figure it out alone. I can remember similar situations, myself as a child. Then, there were other times when I wanted either a good outcome and no one would do it for me, because I had to learn, or would give me tips or advice, because I needed to learn how to figure things out for myself. All three situations were frustrating. My point is that parents should listen to what the child wants in the *current* situation, and respond accordingly as much as possible.
I also agree that knowing a bit more about the particulars would help.

For me, it would be because the frustration is so overwhelming but the task so compelling, I cannot process anything else.  People, noises, touch, become entirely overwhelming.  I would need the solitude to stay focussed on the task or else the frustration would completely overwhelm me.  So, alone, yes, but not just because I wanted to do it by myself.  I *needed* to be by myself or I would explode.

 

eirual, thanks for popping back in.

12-10-2012 07:24 AM
eirual

This thread is officially confusing! lol I don't want to add more situational questions or examples to muddle things further.

 

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.

 

I'm thinking the zone of proximal development would come into play here (http://www.simplypsychology.org/Zone-of-Proximal-Development.html). Finding that "sweet spot" that's just challenging enough to be learning. Not so coddled that everything's always easy, not so tough that a task becomes so overwhelming you may as well give up, but providing challenges that are just right so that there's learning and increasing independence.

12-10-2012 06:44 AM
4evermom
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

 

Oh! This is NOT the unschooling forum?!  LOL.  Your question to the OP is very much timely.  I saw you, Miranda, 4evermom and Pek and I just assumed... Sorry OP.

lol.gif We like to go out now and then.

12-09-2012 09:52 PM
pek64 With the example of the cube, it sounds as though the child wanted very much to figure it out alone. I can remember similar situations, myself as a child. Then, there were other times when I wanted either a good outcome and no one would do it for me, because I had to learn, or would give me tips or advice, because I needed to learn how to figure things out for myself. All three situations were frustrating. My point is that parents should listen to what the child wants in the *current* situation, and respond accordingly as much as possible.

I also agree that knowing a bit more about the particulars would help.
12-09-2012 08:28 PM
Emaye
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

This is not what I meant when I spoke of my kids wanting something and having trouble getting past the need to put in some work or skill-building to get it. I was speaking largely of them wanting competence, the ability to create something, or some sort of experience. For instance: wanting to play soccer, to be part of an aikido class, to be able to play the Vivaldi a minor violin concerto, or do a back walkover, or whatever. I mean, if a child wants to be able to hear the Vivaldi a minor or see a beautiful painting, there are many instant gratification ways of doing so. What tends to happen with my perfectionists, though, is that they see a beautiful painting, or hear someone else play the Vivaldi concerto, and that's when they say "I want to be able to do that." It's not that they want the object that has inspired them, it's that they want to be able to create it. I believe that this is a natural human urge: to create, to express, to become capable oneself. I certainly see a lot of that urge in my kids. And that's where their perfectionism has tended to be problematic.

 

Miranda

 

A couple of years ago, we got a magnetic building set for my kids.  With it came a manual.  My Ds saw a picture of a cube that he wanted to make.  It required a lot of fine motor skills to do it successfully.  I suggested he try the easier pieces first.  He refused and began working on the cube.  He sat and began working on it but it was failure after failure.  He was very upset but continued working with it.  He refused my help.  He ordered his sister and I to get out of the room.  He cried.  

 

In the end, he did it and I have a picture of him holding the cube, his tear streaken face graced by a giant smile.  

 

My insitinict, when he was getting frustrated was either to help or to stop him and ask him to do something easier.  It was really difficult to watch him struggle.  In the end, I just left the room with his sister because I could not handle the tension.  

 

He was so happy with his accomplishment and it was great to see him achieve what he wanted.  

 

Both my kids are the same with drawing.  They want to be able to make the stuff.  They derive pleasure from the process of the work itself.  I think it is fantastic.  The by product of helping them along in their pursuit I think is an ability to recognize that they can actually learn to do things they want to do.  That the process of learning needs committment, focus, and an ablity to deal with failed attempts.  That something that looks really complex can be broken down into smaller tasks.  That the process of deconstruction leads to understanding ... etc.  

Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

 

But is that what's at issue?  If this were the USing forum, I would automatically assume that was.  But perhaps there is some aspect that we are missing because we wouldn't be talking about activities that take more than a little push.  

 

OP, is there something we are missing here?  Is this issue about the kinds of activities and skills we are talking about?  

 

Oh, please tell me I making some sense, here!  I might be making something out of nothing.

 

Oh! This is NOT the unschooling forum?!  LOL.  Your question to the OP is very much timely.  I saw you, Miranda, 4evermom and Pek and I just assumed... Sorry OP.

12-09-2012 06:08 PM
moominmamma
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

If a perfectionist wants a painted scene and is living with a painter, the perfectionist may want the painter to do the painting, so that the scene will look well done. Is that really different from an adult hiring a carpenter to dobuild a custom bookcase? As adults, we sometimes choose to hire a skilled person, rather than work to master the skills ourselves. Are children so different that we can't believe they would rather have a good end result than new skills?

 

This is not what I meant when I spoke of my kids wanting something and having trouble getting past the need to put in some work or skill-building to get it. I was speaking largely of them wanting competence, the ability to create something, or some sort of experience. For instance: wanting to play soccer, to be part of an aikido class, to be able to play the Vivaldi a minor violin concerto, or do a back walkover, or whatever. I mean, if a child wants to be able to hear the Vivaldi a minor or see a beautiful painting, there are many instant gratification ways of doing so. What tends to happen with my perfectionists, though, is that they see a beautiful painting, or hear someone else play the Vivaldi concerto, and that's when they say "I want to be able to do that." It's not that they want the object that has inspired them, it's that they want to be able to create it. I believe that this is a natural human urge: to create, to express, to become capable oneself. I certainly see a lot of that urge in my kids. And that's where their perfectionism has tended to be problematic.

 

Miranda

12-09-2012 05:27 PM
SweetSilver

You're OK, Emaye.  I wasn't trying to contradict what you were saying, and I understand what you wanted to say.  I was trying to differentiate between what we are all talking about:

 

Quote:
a desire in learning a particular skill but be reluctant to do the work 

 

and a situation where there is no desire to learn a skill (like, oh, times tables) or what learning the skill or skills can lead to (say, higher math).  I see the occasional kid in gymnastics, and you can tell who doesn't really want to be there.  They are not interested in the joy of eventually doing a back hand spring, and they are not motivated to do the work.  The class was their parent's idea, and they do it to please them (?)  and perhaps the parents have some notion that there is a greater good for continuing (which doesn't happen that often in this particular case because gymnastics is so expensive!) and that good might become apparent some time in the future, or so the parents hope?

 

So, with all us unschoolers answering generic questions about "grit" and perfectionism, I wonder whether our speaking about an:

 

 

Quote:
 activity [that] is child desired but child doesn't think he can do it

is a bit limited to the issue as a whole.  

 

But is that what's at issue?  If this were the USing forum, I would automatically assume that was.  But perhaps there is some aspect that we are missing because we wouldn't be talking about activities that take more than a little push.  

 

OP, is there something we are missing here?  Is this issue about the kinds of activities and skills we are talking about?  

 

Oh, please tell me I making some sense, here!  I might be making something out of nothing.

12-09-2012 05:12 PM
Emaye
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

I mean goals that kids cannot see, or don't care about (or both, actually!)  Most of the responding parents frequent the unschooling board, and our answers seem to be assuming that we are just talking about activities and skills that are desired by both parents and kids, not homeschooling assignments given by parents to a reluctant child.  The child could be reluctant not just because he's a perfectionist, but because he isn't interested, or the goals and benefits are so abstract and far off as to be meaningless.

 

And what I am saying is, a child could express a desire in learning a particular skill but be reluctant to do the work to get to a place where he learns the skill because he doesn't think he can.  Does that make sense?  I am typing on tiny keyboard so excuse my typos.  

 

So in this case, the activity is child desired but child doesn't think he can do it.  Showing this child that he could actually do it if he tires is valuable, I think.  But maybe that makes me a non-unschooler.

12-09-2012 04:28 PM
SweetSilver
Quote:
Originally Posted by Emaye View Post

 

I guess in our house, it is all of the above.  You can want something and be frustrated with the work it takes to get there AND it can actually be good for you to do the work to get there instead of giving up and deciding you can't do it.  At least, I believe this. Life is complex, no?  I believe adults who can follow through their goals and stick to some the stuff the need to to are better off.  So, I suppose my parenting is colored by that.   

 

 

I mean goals that kids cannot see, or don't care about (or both, actually!)  Most of the responding parents frequent the unschooling board, and our answers seem to be assuming that we are just talking about activities and skills that are desired by both parents and kids, not homeschooling assignments given by parents to a reluctant child.  The child could be reluctant not just because he's a perfectionist, but because he isn't interested, or the goals and benefits are so abstract and far off as to be meaningless.

12-09-2012 04:19 PM
Emaye
Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

This is one of the keys.  Do they want it?  Is it meaningful to them?  Or to the parents?

 

Is it, "stick to these drills because when you are a geezer you are going to be so thankful, I promise"?  (orngtongue.gif Pardon the silliness.)

 

Or is it, like moominmamma's kids, "I see you really want this but are frustrated because to get there it's going to take some work."

 

What are we talking about?  

 

I guess in our house, it is all of the above.  You can want something and be frustrated with the work it takes to get there AND it can actually be good for you to do the work to get there instead of giving up and deciding you can't do it.  At least, I believe this. Life is complex, no?  I believe adults who can follow through their goals and stick to some of the stuff they need to do are better off.  So, I suppose my parenting is colored by that.   

Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

If a perfectionist wants a painted scene and is living with a painter, the perfectionist may want the painter to do the painting, so that the scene will look well done. Is that really different from an adult hiring a carpenter to do build a custom bookcase? As adults, we sometimes choose to hire a skilled person, rather than work to master the skills ourselves. Are children so different that we can't believe they would rather have a good end result than new skills?

 

True.  But there are basic life skills children must learn, no?  I mean, there are skills that are not required for survival (like carpentry/painting) and there are skills that are prerequisite for a good life.  At least this is how I see it.  I suppose, when it comes down to it, I don't totally buy that children/adults (people in general) can always do what they want to do and only that.  I have never seen it work that way.   

 

To get back to pek64 example about a perfectionist wanting a painted scene, there are several outcomes there.  1. Perfectionist hires someone to do it.  2.  Perfectionist does it herself.  3.  Perfectionist is happy forgoing the painted scene until s/he is able to hire someone to do it.  4. Perfectionist is unhappy because s/he can't hire someone to do the painted scene BUT wants it badly AND doesn't want to do the work to get there.  

 

The first 3 are good and fine.  The 4th can lead to a lot of unhappiness in life, IMHO.  

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Edited to correct some typos :)

12-09-2012 08:49 AM
pek64 If a perfectionist wants a painted scene and is living with a painter, the perfectionist may want the painter to do the painting, so that the scene will look well done. Is that really different from an adult hiring a carpenter to dobuild a custom bookcase? As adults, we sometimes choose to hire a skilled person, rather than work to master the skills ourselves. Are children so different that we can't believe they would rather have a good end result than new skills?
12-09-2012 08:18 AM
SweetSilver
Quote:
Originally Posted by moominmamma View Post

 

Ah yes, my first response was coloured by my experience: my eldest two are extreme perfectionists. I often saw them stuck in a form of perfection paralysis, wanting something that I knew was within their grasp developmentally but unwilling to grapple with the steps required along the way to mastery because they knew they weren't assured immediate complete mastery.

This is one of the keys.  Do they want it?  Is it meaningful to them?  Or to the parents?

 

Is it, "stick to these drills because when you are a geezer you are going to be so thankful, I promise"?  (orngtongue.gif Pardon the silliness.)

 

Or is it, like moominmamma's kids, "I see you really want this but are frustrated because to get there it's going to take some work."

 

What are we talking about?  

12-09-2012 06:34 AM
4evermom
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.

Good advice, in general! People are always waving new things in front of babies and toddlers, picking them up and relocating them with no warning when they are doing something. It always seemed rude and disrespectful to do it for no reason without noticing what the child is doing or looking at. And then people worry about their kids having short attention spans after constantly interrupting them for years. dizzy.gif

12-08-2012 10:18 AM
pek64 I read a bit more.

As a perfectionist, I would suggest you take a step back, for a moment. When something is going badly, I frequently walk away. Then I think of a new approach and go back. I simply cannot see the option with the failure in front of me. Watch and see if your child does the same thing.
12-08-2012 10:01 AM
journeymom

Great thread!  I came across this article in a 2007 Stanford Alum magazine in a doctor's office a couple years ago.  eyesroll.gif Anyway, I really liked it and saved it.  It supports what you're talking about perfectionism here. 

 

 

http://alumni.stanford.edu/get/page/magazine/article/?article_id=32124

 

"the difference between the helpless response and its opposite—the determination to master new things and surmount challenges—lay in people’s beliefs about why they had failed. People who attributed their failures to lack of ability ...  would become discouraged even in areas where they were capable. Those who thought they simply hadn’t tried hard enough, on the other hand, would be fueled by setbacks."

 

 

Quote:
Life's simply more enjoyable if you're not held hostage by your fear of failure.

 

So true. 

12-08-2012 09:58 AM
pek64 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.
12-08-2012 08:49 AM
SweetSilver
Quote:
Originally Posted by onatightrope View Post

 

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

Yes.  

 

Recently, it has been learning origami alongside my girls.  They do see that some of it comes more easily than for them, but they also see me struggle with a lot of it, too.  I struggle with spatial visualization, perhaps because of a lifetime of lack of practice.  It's helpful, though, from the girls' perspective to see it.  

 

I've noticed this before with reading.  Pronouncing those dinosaur names can be frustratingly difficult!  

12-08-2012 07:02 AM
onatightrope

For a 7 year old, I would probably do two things: I would be sure to comment on how much easier some skill has become for him over the last year (or whatever time period) so that he can see how practice helps, and that things that used to be difficult can become easier with time and effort.  The other thing I do, especially when I am concerned about something that I am kind of emotional about (as you seem to be about this, since you're casting him as "like your BIL" who seems to bug you), is look at myself and see if I am modeling the behavior I want to see.  Adults rarely push themselves to learn skills in the wide range we expect children to work.  Adults often decide "I'm not good at ____" and stop trying to do whole categories of activities.  I would encourage you to consider what skill you might work on that is well outside your comfort zone, and work on it.  

 

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.  

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