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I don't know if this is the right place to put this. DD is not quite 3 y.o. and hasn't in any way been identified formally as "gifted" - she's bright, certainly, and DH & I were both identified as "gifted" in school (as did many members of our families) so we've always assumed she'll be smart, for whatever good that does a kid. She's super verbal, curious and has great problem-solving skills, and really understands things and rationalizes at a level I haven't noticed other kids do. (The common reaction people have to DD's monologues is "Where does she get this stuff???' the answer to which is her own funny little brain. ;)) But we don't really push or train her in "academics". Of course she knows her colours, shapes, alphabet, numbers and all kinds of other things, but pushing more in that direction feels sort of... trivial? If you know what I mean? We answer her questions and try to keep her stimulated with all kinds of new experiences, that's sort of our approach.

But DD is already showing signs of being a perfectionist, and making herself upset about it sometimes. On the one hand, I like that she understands that "practice makes perfect" (this was a problem both DH and I had - despite being gifted, neither of us has a clue how to work hard). If she gets it in her head to do something, she will work on it for AGES. I mean, I remember her spending a real, live 45 minutes with a screw-top bottle when she was < 6 months old just screwing it on and off, on and off until she could do it perfectly. This week it's about writing letters - she writes her name over and over and over again, and frets about it every time a letter doesn't come out perfectly. She wouldn't finish writing her name until her "M" was EXACTLY RIGHT. You should have heard her, "This part is not in the right place. It needs to be FURTHER APART". Or lengthening an arm of a letter millimeter by millimeter to get EXACT symmetry.

Well, fine. We're all a little neurotic in this family. But lately I've noticed DD will avoid activities she used to like because she's just frustrated she can't "do it right". I mean, she's not even 3 - I don't know if she can physically even expect to have the coordination to form all her letters perfectly. But she's completely concerned that she can't do it. Last night we had a discussion beginning with her disdainfully telling me that the new girl at preschool is a baby because she can't spell her name (never mind the fact that most of the preschool can't read let alone write). I reminded her that she has trouble sometimes too, does that mean she is a baby also? To this she frowned and thought a lot and then informed me that she doesn't like writing anymore. Ah, great attitude, kid. I told her that practice makes perfect and it's okay if she doesn't learn it right away; to just be patient and keep trying. But she seemed to find this answer somewhat dissatisfying.

I can't decide if the thing to do is to push her harder to keep trying (which seems scary, sometimes, because I feel like she's being too serious and trying too hard to begin with) or to encourage her to lay off and just relax about it (which seems like it might encourage the kind of "intellectual laziness" a lot of smart kids have, where they expect everything to be easy).

I'm not sure if this is even a "gifted" issue, but I figured you parents might have some experience in this area anyway! How do you keep your kids motivated without turning them into OCD neurotics? ;)
 

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I would keep your responses very low key and positive. Acknowledge her feelings "that can be frustrating" "you can tell how you want it to look but your hand isn't able to make it the same way." I'd also give positive encouragement "I remember six months ago you didn't know your letters and now you do" "I notice it is easier for you to do x than it used to be" "you are learning every day". But, most of all I would try to stay out of it and let it remain her process that you don't need to direct.

I would try to avoid some internal dialogue with yourself that if she doesn't stick with practicing letters she's going to end up lazy. Sometimes kids work on something for a while and get where they are going to get with it and it is appropriate to let it go for a while. Development often comes in bursts so it makes sense to move on to other interests.
 
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