You can usually tell when your child is struggling – being a homeschool parent it gives you that opportunity to see your child when they feel vulnerable. The good thing is that it also gives you a great opportunity to help.
My little girl is sensitive, and an only child, her temperament is that of a pleaser. She just wants to please us. When she – I will emphasize when SHE thinks that she is not doing what she thinks she should be – she will shut down and tears inevitably come.
I have noticed that it is usually when something new is started that she doesn’t understand right away.
Thing about it is she’s a smart kid, a very smart kid. And that is probably why, a lot of things come easy to her. She has done things that completely stump me that I didn’t even know she knew what they were let alone how to do it. Examples: when she was a year and a half, she put together a pulley system with a jump rope and the door handles in our hallway. Because she didn’t want to pick up toys to get them onto her truck or figuring out that if she put a wedge under a board, she could use it to pry stuff up. She’s also the kid that rattled off planets in order to her grandmother (including dwarf planets) while not skipping a beat playing barbies and makes up math problems and works them during church. I know what you are thinking, and no, she did not see us do any of those and yes, I have had flashes of ‘oh boy – I’m going to be busy with homeschooling!’
Anyway, back to it…
I did finally get her to admit after a very long and very trying day that she thinks if she doesn’t do well – even fails, that my husband and I won’t love her. Which couldn’t be any further from the truth, but that is what she believes, and we just need to reaffirm that we will always love her no matter what. I honestly do not know where it comes from. My guess is preschool or an encounter with a family member that put this idea in her head.
We tell her that failure is ok, and even needed. We even give times that we have failed – some very badly (hey, if your gonna go down, make it spectacular – right?!?)
I have realized one thing, as a homeschool parent my empathy for her could make life worse. I can’t lighten her load and make everything easy. That would not be any help to her at all in the future – life’s not easy. My goal is to help her over the bumps that make her confidence plummet and teach her how to boost her confidence by herself without any help from me – at least not all the time (we all need a cheerleader every now and then).
Here are a few different things we do to help instill confidence in her:
- explain it’s OK, getting stuff wrong and failing is good (it’s when we learn the most)
- take a break – sometimes you need to get away from it
- stop or back up and reexamine
- encourage, encourage, encourage
- look back at all the things that have been accomplished
- reexamine the information and see if there is a different way to teach it – find a few different ways and show them to your child, let them pick which to use
- learn the information in little pieces and take time with each. Make sure they know each piece before they move on.
There is also one more, that I absolutely love, and that’s ‘let them teach you’. I just love the way kids explain stuff, and it really is very helpful. You get to see how their brain works when they are explaining. So, if anything, pull up a rug and be the student while they explain how to do stuff.
Have a great day!