Last night I sent out a plea both on Facebook & on Twitter that I needed help in the homeschool arena. Boy 1 is very bright and everything has come very easily to him up to this point. He basically taught himself how to read, taught himself addition and even started teaching himself multiplication.
He's earned several new belts in Aikido & made the swim team less than one year after his first swim lesson (at which he was terrified to get into the water). He's hit very few bumps in the road and the few bumps he did encounter, I seemed to always be there to smooth them out.
This year, however, the work has been getting a little more challenging and he's making a few more mistakes. I think part of it is arrogance, he has stopped taking the time to read all instructions carefully, but it's also obvious to me that not all of the concepts are coming as easily to him. He's actually having to work at things.
His frustration & stress levels are raising rapidly. Rather than sitting at the table happily and celebrating a job well done after his work is complete, it's now a fight to get him to sit down in the first place and when I do ask him to correct his mistakes, he immediately goes on the defensive and gets very offended. I've tried to explain to him that I'm not being mean spirited when I point out his mistakes, that I simply am trying to teach him the proper way to do things (most recently: letter writing).
It seems every lesson lately quickly deteriorates into pissing match of me trying to get him to redo his work and him digging his heels in and refusing to absolutely anything. Not an environment conducive to learning and growing ~ to say the least.
Thus my plea all over the internet last night.
I got a response from a friend and it was like a total lightbulb moment. Well DUH! She stated that she had recently read a study (sorry, I don't have a link) about frustration in kids that have been labeled as "smart". The study determined that "smart" kids got frustrated early, gave up on projects that they struggled with and were afraid of taking risks because of the possibility of failure. Sweet Jaazus ~ was this written about my child?!
The study went on to explain that if parents, instead of celebrating how easily things come to these "smart" children, they acknowledge how hard these children worked to master each task then the children responded with less frustration, less stress and more of a willingness to try new things and ask for help when needed.
**Smacks Palm To Forehead**
Boy, do I feel like a real dunce! Of course! We talk to Boy 1 often about having to work hard for the things he wants in life, but I'm not sure we've ever actually acknowledged his hard work ~ because to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure there's been much in his short 8 years so far that he's had to work very hard at......
So, this morning, as I was thinking of the final few weeks of homeschooling that we have left this year (but we'll be playing some catch up over the summer), I thought of ways that I could put this new idea into practice and then.....
**Smacks Palm To Forehead**
....I realized how easily this translates into everyday life, even for adults. In my case specifically, athletics have always come easily to me. I was a star athlete in highschool (and a pretty good student). When I went to college, in both academics and in volleyball, I was simply middle of the pack. I was going to have to work hard in order to shine. And I quit..... I didn't know what to do or how to handle not being the best.
Even now, as I'm clawing my way back to being a fit, in shape sexy mama, I'm struggling with not seeing results NOW. With not being capable of going out and running a marathon right NOW. But, maybe I need to step back and acknowledge how hard I've worked already. How far I've come. I have a lot of work in front of me still, but that doesn't negate the hard work I've already put in...