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"This is HARD! Leave me alone!!"

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So said younger DD when she ran into a small roadblock in her phonics program. She's so used to being able to learn without thinking hard, but - heaven help her - she stumbled across something that will take her a little bit of practice to master and LOST IT. And when I say "a little bit of practice," I'm talking about what typical kids do everyday.


I remember well the feelings of confusion, frustration, anger and even fear, when I had to think hard to learn something. So, I do understand what she's going through. But, I don't know how to help her.


I welcome ideas or suggestions...

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"Your brain is like a muscle- the harder it works, the smarter you're going to be!"


This phrase gets repeated by me over and over again ad nauseum in our homeschool.


And I have to say that it sounds like you probably need to increase the challenge level of the materials you're using. She needs to think hard frequently rather than only every once in a while.

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My dd was exactly like that when she was in the early preschool years. She avoided doing anything she might have to try more than once...talked non-stop or rolled on the floor or whatever. For her the challenges came with her violin lessons more than school because I wasn't formally schooling her at the time.


Some things that helped break her from perfectionism were to tell her that "we practice to make things easier." We turned everything difficult into a game or broke it into smaller tasks that were more easily accomplished...with phonics, maybe singing what she is trying to learn or making flashcards with her to practice from or trying it in a different context might help (not sure what she's having difficulty with so having a hard time being creative).


A general idea to help might be for you to try to learn something difficult for you so she can see you practice and work to learn something. Maybe do something difficult together like learn to knit, decorate a cake, or bake something fancy.


Also, you might want to look into the book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol Dweck. It is filled with suggestions for dealing with a child's perfectionism and your reactions to her.

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With gifted kids, perfectionism tends to run rampant...meaning, something is done right the first time, or you've failed. With young gifted kids, this can be especially difficult - they only know the feelings of perfection and failure, rather than being able to determine what's behind them.


Yes, her brain needs to be exercised...but it sounds like there's a lot more behind her outburst. That doesn't sound like laziness, it sounds like frustration. In the hands of a perfectionist, ongoing frustration can pretty much cripple the learning process.


I had to deal with this with my son when he was younger, and it wasn't an easy process. It took a lot of patience and understanding, as well as knowing how far to push him and when to let up. I would bet just about anything that part of her wants to be challenged, but another part of her just can't process the possibility of failing at something. Hence, she's scared to try something tht doesn't come easily to her. If you recognize the fear and help her work through it (even when it seems silly), she'll come out a lot stronger for it in years to come. If you crack the whip and make her do it no matter what, because it looks like laziness, you'll have a lot to deal with down the line. Not saying to not have her do the work, just to temper it with understanding for where her outburst is coming from.


I'm writing this because it's what I wish someone had told me several years ago...ask me how I know all this. ;)

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