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Question about perfection


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ok, so quick background - I recently found out that my DD3, whom I have already posted about, is "significantly advanced" cognitively according to the ped. So I have been reading everything I can about what it means to be gifted, what the difference between gifted and just bright would be and I am realizing that I've been in denial about my DD6 (just turned 6), whom I thought was just bright/average. She fits every category listed on every "bright" scale I've read and fits all of level 4 about half the level 5 categories on the Ruf Estimates scale. From what academic testing I've done myself, she's reading at grade 5 (at least - I haven't tested her in a couple months and she went from level k to level 4 in 3 months time, so she may be higher than grade 5 reading, and her comprehension is running about 1 grade lower than her decoding skills). She's also near the end of 2nd grade math skills, based on testing.

 

So one thing that has been bothering me though, is that she balks at challenge - I gave her a 60 piece puzzle the other day and she was all excited at first, then said she couldn't do it... in fact, I had to laugh, because when I sat down to help her, she was telling me what to do and was putting the puzzle together almost faster than I could, all the while saying that she couldn't do it and that it was too hard. When she's faced with anything that makes her use her brain, she does everything she can to get out of doing it unless I sit down to help her. (my helping is usually asking her questions) 

 

Is this the "perfectionist" trait coming out? She doesn't want to do it if she can't do it perfectly on the first try? 

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Learning to overcome perfectionism (without turning apathetic instead) is very important. I'd have had a nervous breakdown 3x over as a parent and in law school by now if I hadn't internalized that "good enough" really is.

 

Balking at challenge is something I recognize as a way of dealing with uncertainty over whether it'll be as easy to do right as the child expects things to be because most things do come easily. Learning to handle challenge, and being challenged, are both important.

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Learning to handle challenge, and being challenged, are both important.

 

This is what I need. In reading the thread linked above, the comment one person made about teaching her child to be ok with a 94% on a vocabulary quiz really struck home for me - my daughter would have a meltdown if she got a 94% on something... things have always come so easily for her that the challenging things make her want to give up and not try. 

 

I want her to not only be able to handle the challenge, but to seek out the challenge! I want her to be able to fail miserably at something, pick herself up and try again with renewed determination instead of fear/defeat.

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For my DD, I needed to ramp up the challenge such that it wasn't perfect. And it's hard because the US mentality is definitely focused on that 100% A+. I remember being very shocked at the difficulty of the tests for the Singapore Science books compared to the activity book/textbook-and also being shocked to find that a 70% was the minimum A. In looking through it, I realized that if a child mastered just the content in the book, but didn't dig deeper, make connections, and truly think, they would probably fall in the B range at best. That 70% indicating mastery of the content well really allowed kids to connect deeper and show that they knew more. And that's what I go for now. AOPS is the same thing.
And it's definitely helped. DD took the National Classical Etymology Exam this past year for the first time. This is a high school level competition, and it's hard by design. Everyone takes the same test, but the cut-scores for each medal change depending on year in school and years of classical language study. Last year, NO ONE-not even 12th graders who had 4+ years of Latin, got a perfect score. The average score was something like a 46%. That's been the kind of thing that has been good for her-because perfection really, truly is not an option.

 

I also think that the best thing that has happened for DD was that her cheer team started losing. That sounds bad, but when she was on u7, her team usually won or placed pretty high. When she got to u10, suddenly the competition was a lot harder, and even though her team is strong, they had competition, and it truly depended on who the judges liked best out of 5-6 good teams. So, DD suddenly had the experience of going out, as a team hitting a routine better than they'd ever done it before, everything working-and losing. She's had the experience of having a day that just didn't gel, and losing. She's had the experience of seeing teammates or their parents get downright angry and focus so hard on one mistake that it was ludicrous, and people quit her team and move to ones that compete on a lower level because they'd rather win in a weaker division than lose in a strong one.  And that's been a good thing for her-because it's helped her realize that TO HER it's more important to have the same group of people to practice with and compete with, to work hard, and to have fun, and that, yes, losing is disappointing, but that losing-even if you made a mistake that could contribute to the loss, isn't fatal, and that she'd rather do something hard, and lose, than do something easy and win.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It might be worthwhile to read a little about imposter syndrome. Obviously this might not be the case with a child so young, but you might run into it eventually.

 

In case anyone isn't familiar with it, imposter syndrome deals with feeling one is a fake or fraud, that all the accomplishments have been luck. Sometimes this comes to surface when suddenly a child doesn't win or get a perfect score. The child may start to doubt her intelligence and abilities. It can cause a child to avoid a situation that could lead to "failure" to avoid being "found out" as the fraud she fears she might be.

 

Once again, this is probably not the case with a child so young, but sometimes kids have thoughts younger than we expect them to. :)

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I agree that she might just want company.  One of mine needs no help, but she will sometimes act like she does because it can be lonely to do everything alone.

 

Maybe if you find some intellectual games that involve 2 people, that would be more fun for her.

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She does like doing things with me... we have played Life and endless rounds of mindbenders jr. together for a couple years... I need to get some new games, I'm really tired of those two!  :lol:

 

I was thinking about checkers, but maybe I should get chess and we can both learn it together.

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