7yo dd wont try new things and is very hard on herself.

(14 Posts)
ItsAllAboutTheCakes Sun 17-Jan-16 10:04:07

Dd is very bright academically and has always been very hard on herself. If she's not done something perfectly right she will rub it out and start over again. She's somewhat of a perfectionist.
This has lead to her being very self critical and she gives up on things very easily if she's not great at it from the start.
She's never been very good at anything physical, trying to get her to ride a bike with stabilisers was a long process as she just couldn't get herself going (I was worried at the time that she may have some problems with her muscle tone but it seems fine)
Took her to swimming lessons and she hated jumping in or getting her face or ears wet so that was a challenge so we left it for a while. Decided to take her for a family swim yesterday and I tried to get her to lie on her back to float just to get her used to the feeling of the water and that ended in the screaming tears as usual as she 'just can't do it' and refused to let me help her at all, so I left her to just splash around and enjoy herself.
She got a sewing machine for christmas and she decided this morning to have a go and I found a video of how to thread it online and because I tried to help her set it up she's gone off for a sulk.
I don't know how to handle it really and just looking for any similar experiences? She's really lovely and kind to everyone, does as shes told generally and is all round a lovely little girl but is just so hard on herself.

Haahooooo Sun 17-Jan-16 11:08:22

I don't have a seven year old so can't advise from that perspective, but I was very hard on myself when I was a child and still am.

Something which I deliberately try to do with my DC, and which I feel my parents never did, is "modelling failure", if that makes sense. So I let them see that I make mistakes / get things wrong, and talk about that in a light hearted way. Oops, mummy did this wrong, oh never mind I'll try again, that sort of thing.

Apologies as this is not particularly insightful and you probably do this already, but it is something I think was a bit missing from my childhood.

MidnightVelvetthe4th Sun 17-Jan-16 11:32:01

I have something partly similar with my 10 year old DS smile

He is not a physical sporty boy anyway but he won't try new things if there's a possibility of him failing! I put it down to him being bright & most things at school come naturally to him so he hasn't really had to try at anything & he not used to finding something difficult or if there's something he can't do such as football, he would play by himself in the playground than join in a game that all his friends are playing. He would just prefer to not try than to fail.

He refuses all sports if they are not done within the family, so he's fine to go swimming with us or ride his bike round the park with us but if we are not there & its amongst his peers he just refuses. Swimming was a problem for ages as was hair washing as he screamed if his face got wet, so for a while he had to wear goggles for swimming & hair washes. He still won't shower now & insists on a bath.

Another thing is labels on clothes, he will not tolerate them next to his skin so I buy the M&S Skinkind white polo shirts for school & cut the labels out of everything else.

He's also always woken very very early & every morning since he's been in a toddler bed he has woken before 6am, even if he's had a late night he still wakes up then but is just grumpy for the whole day.

He has tics, both verbal & facial, I took him to the GP when he was about 6 & the GP said not to worry & he will grow out of them. They are short lived so for instance last week he was making a growling sound, this week its more of a coughing sound but not a cough.

I have another DS who is nothing like this but also doesn't have the cleverness academically that DS1 has. We are not a family that strives for perfection, DS1 has always known that its about trying not about winning everything so its not something we have done or encouraged. We don't connect our love with achievements. Its just him.

I have no solution but there is a thread on MN in the past year about G&T children displaying ASD traits which I found very interesting. DP & I don't really agree with our approach to him, DP thinks that we shouldn't pander & that he has to get used to labels in his clothes & just put up with it, I think there's no harm in cutting labels out, I think its a sensory issue & I don't see the benefit in keeping him uncomfortable. At the moment we do it my way but he's starting secondary in September & I'm starting to think that maybe DP's way should have more sway. I don't know, we just muddle through.

There's nothing wrong with your DD smile she's probably just a bit left of middle, wait until she asks for your help before you get involved & don't push the physical stuff, teach her to play chess or how to write stories instead. Get her to read lots. Take her to museums/art galleries/theatre etc & encourage her interests & don't focus on what she's not interested in smile

ItsAllAboutTheCakes Sun 17-Jan-16 12:00:26

Thanks hahooo , yes that is something I try to do and I think she may well pick up a bit on my behaviour as I have anxiety problems but try to not let dd see it but that's obviously not always possible.

Thank you very much for that post midnight your ds does sound very similar to dd. She also has sensory issues and hates labels! She doesn't have vocal tics but since she's worn glasses she has a habit if scrunching her face even if she's not wearing them and it has become a bit if a habit /tic.
I also have another ds who isn't as academic and doesn't display any of the behaviours as dd so maybe it is a G&T thing. She reads a lot and has finished all of the reading levels at school so quite enjoys being able to choose her own books to read.
I suppose I may be focusing too much on what she won't do rather on hiw much she has achieved all on her own.

Littlefish Sun 17-Jan-16 12:12:37

I'll come back to this thread later if that's ok. My dd is very similar but is now 11 and things are slowly improving.

fiestabelle1 Sun 17-Jan-16 12:32:10

My DS is similar. I don't push him to try anything he is uncomfortable with, and try to give him the confidence NOT to do things if he really doesn't want to...IMO its better that he is able to say, no, sorry, not my bag than spend time being pushed to do things just because others expect him to enjoy them. The other thing I've tried to emphasise is that we all have strengths and weaknesses, so he is strong in art and English but finds maths difficult but I try to let him know this is OK. We also use humour a lot, I.e. its a family joke that I have no rhythm so am rubbish at dancing, so try and let them know its OK to be hopeless at something and its not always the end of the world.

ItsAllAboutTheCakes Sun 17-Jan-16 15:32:33

Fiestabelle that sounds like a very healthy approach, I might just leave it to her. I just don't want her to grow up not being able to do certain things like swimming and then have her think I just didn't care enough to make her do the lessons iyswim? I'm not too bothered if she's not the most athletic child in the world bit I'd love for her to be able to swim a little and ride a bike.

TheToys Sun 17-Jan-16 16:07:42

DS sounds very similar. I dread to think he will never learn how to swim and I think that is absolutely essential. Finds cycling too hard and "wobbly". Very anxious about everything new. Won't go to any after school classes, as it would obvs. have to be without his parents. Quite set in his ways. Can get into a rage over perceived failure or unfairness. Socializing can be hard, although he is fine at school. Reads years ahead of his peers (taught himself to read before preschool), so an element of giftedness there. I swing between being kind and not pushing anything on him, to being a blackmailing anxious banshee. sad

Bounced Sun 17-Jan-16 16:13:29

I do a lot of talking things through and letting her know the plan. So, we will try riding your new bike without stabilisers. We will start by you walking with it. When you're ready, you will sit on the saddle. Then I will hold you under the armpits while you're still. After that, we'll try it moving slowly etc. It's frustrating but talking her through it in advance and breaking things in to tiny steps helps a lot.

And sometimes saying 'we'll try another time, it's fine for you to not be ready to try today' provokes her in to having a go, so she can prove me wrong.

She also struggles to stop, once she's started something. I mean, persistence is good, but sometimes a fresh approach another time is better than driving herself to tears of frustration. That one, I'm still working on.

ApologiesToInsectLife Sun 17-Jan-16 16:16:25

This is my 10 year old dd too. It is exhausting dealing with her anxieties.

Mizuna Tue 19-Jan-16 14:53:50

Sorry to hijack but MidnightVelvet some of the things you said about labels, water, are exactly like my DD and I found the book Raising Your Spirited Child very helpful in understanding her. It talks about children who are more sensitive to their environment, physically and emotionally, and ways to work with them (including cutting off labels smile )

MidnightVelvetthe4th Tue 19-Jan-16 16:10:11

Thanks Mizuna I shall buy it smile

MrsRolly Sun 24-Jan-16 15:09:25

Hello OP,

my daughter is very similar although 9 now very academically able and a complete perfectionist nothing but 100% is good enough for her. We certainly don't pressure her academically - never have.

We also struggled with bike riding for eg today although she is now brilliant on her bike she got off and wouldn't ride any further as she was afraid of hitting a dog. Last week same route no problems. She didn't come to the cafe which she was looking forward to as she sat with her bike (the stubborn gene maybe from me) as she wouldn't ride it.
Swimming although initially she struggled is now the thing that she will push her self although we have many weeks when she gets out and says she was rubbish! Her proudest moment is getting one of swimming levels which took her a while. I try to remind her of this often.

It's almost as if when she is worried about failing or not being 100% good enough she gets trapped in her head and the gets fearful so does nothing.
I struggle with this as I am not an anxious person and my approach is always to just have another go so for me I need to adjust my ways of dealing with it better which I am always trying to do.

I am making a point of praising her for trying hard rather than being clever and rewarding her when she remembers our new target of trying things three times before getting frustrated/giving up.

No magic answers but if you find some please share wink parenting a perfectionist is tiring!

Iwantakitchen Sun 24-Jan-16 15:24:40

I work with younger children and am conscious of this trait in children - coincidence, I was reading this earlier today, it might be helpful it might not! But it's an interesting article. www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/grownups/help-your-child-try-new-things

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