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How do you encourage a 7 yo (great) speller with low self esteem?

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We are going to a regional Spelling Bee tomorrow and my 7 yo is terrified that he won't spell as good as the other children or that they will make fun of him .


The competition will be for all 1st-8th graders together , they won't separate by grades level.


My son is an excellent speller , working on a a 5th grade spelling but has low confidence and thinks he is not that good. He ALWAYS cries if he does not win any game we play ! I know he will have a hard time accepting he is not the best speller tomorrow . He does not care if the children are 7th or 8th grades , he just wants to win. :)


How do I encourage him , without making him feel like he is the best ?


Perhaps part of his perfectionism is because I used to praise him too much for his great spelling and reading since he was little. Maybe he expects too much from himself now. I've learned not to do that anymore , but how do I build it up now?

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When my ultra-competitive oldest DS was that age, we faced similiar situations. What I found DIDN'T work for him was to point out that the kids who beat him were older/taller/more experienced. With my DS, we would ask - Did you do your best? Yes? Now you know what it's going to take to win. Do you want to keep trying? Yes? Excellent! Then we would talk about what he did well and what ideas he had for next time.


Full support and no whining allowed (my DS had a tendency to whine). DS is 19 now and still ultra-compettive, but has learned to channel that desire to win all the time to his benefit. I wish I were that good at it - I still struggle with this myself!

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My son is the same way. He will be 7 in March. About a week ago he just did a spelling bee 1st thru 8th competing against each other. He came in 2nd place! He was EXTREMELY nervous. He kept saying "he would not win, or wasn't a good speller, or he didn't get a list so he would just do terrible!"


I took the competition aspect out of the equation. I just kept telling him it was JUST an academic activity and he would probably make some new buddies. Plus, I told him this was a preparation to let us know what a spelling bee is and how it works, so we could spend the upcoming years preparing for Scripps. I just tried to make everything real casual and made him feel like it was kinda like a meet and greet. This relaxed him a great deal and he did great. He was as cool as a non-competitive cucumber!

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