You may not be quite sure of how it happened, but suddenly your child is unable (or unwilling) to practice piano, spelling words or even math questions because they might get them wrong. How you respond to these tantrums (or misbehaviours) teaches kids how to manage failure in the future.
Option 1 – The Excuse
‘Well, it’s obvious we’ve raised a perfectionist and they are so darn sensitive…it’s probably better if we don’t force them to do anything they don’t want to. They’ll get over it when they realize how important spelling is.’
Result: The child learns that if they protest about anything that is even a bit tricky (or just takes up valuable play time) they can get away with it. They will be protesting all over the place in no time.
Option 2 - Learning Opportunity
When kids feel overwhelmed by new tasks, we can certainly support their emotions, ‘Wow, you seem to have pretty big feelings about these spelling words. Let’s find a way to get the feelings out and then we need a plan.’
Power struggles mean that kids are fighting for control. We need to find a way to give them some control within the situation. When the heat of the moment has passed, set aside some time make a plan WITH your child about how things are going to be different moving forward.
‘We know that you need to write your spelling (or practice your scales) three times this week. Will you be doing it at 3:10 or 3:20? How many words will you do in a row? When it seems scary or tough, how will you find the courage to keep trying?’
Result: When the child feels they have some power in the situation, they doesn’t have to fight you. They knows that together, you can come up with a plan and that you are on their side.
For a downloadable mp3 tutorial on teaching your child courage click here.