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Do you teach your children to always do their best at school and play?

(26 Posts)
bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 09:44:32

I am just wondering whether people "teach" their children to always try their hardest and do their best whether at school with their work or with a hobby etc? My ds is 8 and doesn't seem bothered if he does something and doesn't get full marks etc although he does love doing well overall he doesnt seem to have any incentive to do his best. I know he is too young to be worrying about good grades at gcses and the importance of education for future jobs and happiness etc but I wondered at what age the importance of giving 100% kicks in?

Gales Tue 09-Apr-13 09:48:15

I'd love to know how this is done too.

DS1 is generally average at everything from sport to maths to art. He enjoys everything he does but he has no competitive spirit whatsoever. He really doesn't care if he comes first or last.

It's a big worry to me, he's 12 and it's starting to matter.

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 10:08:49

Its strange isnt it? Ds is competitive on some levels but if you say that was a silly mistake caused by not checking your work on something he obviously knew he would just shrug and not understand why it mattered. He likes that he is one of the higher achievers in the class but that seems good enough for him.

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 10:11:57

I know quite a few people who at this age have sat their child down and talked to them about whether they want to have a tutor and study hard to try and get into the local highly selective entry school or if they just want to go to one of the other local schools. They have all seemed to pick the tutor route and I wonder how you can inspire a child to "want" it for themselves. He is still young and doesnt fully understand the concept of trying to get good results in exams to give you more career options as he is still in the "I want to be a professional footballer" phase.

UnderwaterBasketWeaving Tue 09-Apr-13 10:13:26

Good question. How can we foster the desire to do one's best?

I don't care about competition, there's always going to be someone better. But as long as I know I'm doing my best, I'm happy.

However I teach so many teenagers who seem to live by the mantra of "CBA", meaning even their GCSE work is slapdash and shoddy, far below what they're capable of.

What can I dooo?! <wails>

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 10:15:10

That's precisely it Underwater!! I wonder how people instill this sense of doing one's best in a child from a young age. Where are all the people who achieve it to reveal the secret?

GooseyLoosey Tue 09-Apr-13 10:17:45

We talk a lot to our kids (8 and 9) about effort mattering above all else. I have made it quite clear that as long as they do their best, whatever they come out with is fine by me. However, even if they are top but have not tried, I will not be impressed. We explain that to succeed in life it is not enough to just get by or be naturally good at something, you have to put the effort in. I don't know whether they have got it or not but I hope so.

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 10:43:11

I've tried to impart that ethic to my ds as well GooseyLoosey but I'm not convinced it sinks in. He has ADHD and I think it needs reiterating again and again and obviously I'm not with him for the majority of his day to constantly remind him.

He is very much of the slapdash approach to work and will say its been checked when it hasn't. When he does actually check and picks up on mistakes he acknowledges that it is worthwhile.

I have heard that the majority of people don't have natural talent at something but that it takes 10,000 hours of performing a task to become good at it. You have to want to be the best or have true dedication to do that. Even with something he loves, such as football, he wouldn't want to put that much effort into it. Its how you instill this "desire" that I wonder about!

intheshed Tue 09-Apr-13 10:44:47

I think it is important to praise the effort rather than the achievement. Eg if a child gets a good mark in a spelling test/ draws a fantastic picture etc you say 'well done, I can tell you worked really hard at that' rather than 'you're so clever' etc.

I think there is a difference between wanting them to do their best and wanting them to be 'competitive' - DD has a very competitive streak and has a tendency to say things like 'I'm better than so-and-so at drawing', or she gets upset if someone else got a sticker at school and she didn't. I try and tell her not to compare herself to other people, I don't think it's necessarily a good thing.

Inncogneetow Tue 09-Apr-13 10:51:05

Yes, we have deliberately encouraged this. Even from being tiny we praised effort, concentration, determination and perseverance; rather than the end result. When the started school we explicitly told the, tha what we were most interested in in schoo, reports were comments and grades about effort and commitment, not attainment.

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 10:52:45

I know what you mean intheshed. I guess my main concern is how to get ds to want to always try and be the best he can in life rather than settle for something mediocre. Perhaps 8 is too young to expect a child to understand the difference between aspiring to be a high court judge say rather than a souless minimum wage job. (I am not judging here by the way as I can't exactly see him as a judge somehow). Ds is capable of doing well if he knuckles down but I feel that it needs to come from him rather than from me forcing him to study etc.

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 10:56:00

Inncogneetow that's excellent. Ds is very much of the camp that if he knows it he does it and if he doesnt he gives up and moves on. He doesnt have that sense of determination or willingness to persevere and work out how to do it. He likes it when he knows it but definitely needs to work on the problem solving side of things. His teacher says that a lot of the girls dont know the answers in his class but will happily sit there and try and try again until they get there. Ds (and a lot of the other boys) will try, get it wrong, either get upset or give up and see if they can crib the correct answer from the girls!

GooseyLoosey Tue 09-Apr-13 11:02:46

We have had to take this stance partly because ds outshines dd. He achieves highly in everything and would naturally tend to put in little effort. Dd who tries much harder has lower attainment levels. I am the most proud when I know they have worked their socks off. This means that dd's achievements are worth every bit as much as ds's - if not more.

lljkk Tue 09-Apr-13 11:44:29

not connecting to some of this. My mother used to rail about what was wrong with competitive nature, how the competitive drive was insidious & undermined all good things.

As for work ethic I find that's mostly innate, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

...majority of people don't have natural talent at something but that it takes 10,000 hours of performing a task to become good at it.

That's the Matthew Said point of view which I profoundly disagree with, but fair enough if it inspires rather than discourages you.

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 11:51:46

I am hoping a work ethic is not innate - ds is only 8 and I am hoping that the fact he needs encouragement (nagging) to work harder and concentrate etc is an age thing and that he can be led and taught how to have these values. In the same way as we learn morals over the course of our lives.

I am not saying that I agree 100% with the 10,000 hour concept as I am sure some people have a natural ability in certain things but this natural ability must surely lead to hours of training and practice which makes them the best. I am hoping that although practice may not make perfect it may lead to improvement!

lljkk Tue 09-Apr-13 12:14:12

You still lead the horse to water every day, whether it drinks or not. That's your duty of care. But don't take hardly any credit when it does drink well. That came from within.

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 12:25:26

I understand what you are saying but its a pretty depressing way of looking at things. It is like saying that at the age of 8 I have to come to terms with the fact that my ds doesn't have a great work ethic and that he won't learn how to attain one. I would like to think that we, as parents, have some form of influence over how our children turn out ... albeit small. If not I may as well give up in that case and just let him coast in life in the hope that he finds something innate within him that will make him into a good man.

somebodyelses Tue 09-Apr-13 13:12:45

He enjoys everything he does but he has no competitive spirit whatsoever. He really doesn't care if he comes first or last. It's a big worry to me

I actually think that to an extent that's a pretty healthy attitude to maintain throughout life, and more likely to result in contentment than the alternative.

If an individual is enjoying life, what does it matter where they rank against others? I understand everyone's point but reckon that society already does a damn good job at getting people to feel bad about themselves/their achievements in life, and to compare themselves unfavourably against others. So, I would partially embrace the attitude.

somebodyelses Tue 09-Apr-13 13:15:42

intheshed - really like your point about praising the effort rather than the outcome

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 13:19:49

Somebodyelses I agree to an extent. I think that a bit of competition can be good to spur a child on in the same way as I think recognition of achievement with reward/praise etc is good. However, I often find myself in awe of a friend's ds who doesn't care whether he comes first, last or what other's opinion of him are. Other children's teasing is like water off a duck's back with him and I find that admirable. My ds is probably more competitive rather than less and does love doing well .. he is very bothered by teasing if he doesn't know something or wears/says something different to the norm though.

lljkk Tue 09-Apr-13 14:18:24

It is like saying that at the age of 8 I have to come to terms with the fact that my ds doesn't have a great work ethic and that he won't learn how to attain one.

No I don't think it works like that. It's more like a switch and all you can do is encourage & support. For some people the switch never turns on, for most it turns on and off for spells, for some it turns on & never switches off. Maybe there are special magic triggers, but I've yet to be convinced what they are. In some cultures the trigger is believed to be nagging and even physical violence; a parent is neglectful who doesn't berate or smack to make their child work hard. Our culture sneers at those tactics, but doesn't have anything more successful to offer.

Matthew Syed seems to believe that nothing is innate & everything can be taught: intelligence, speed, power, artistic talents whatever. The flip side of that (saying this as an American whose culture broadly agrees with Syed) is that when you don't succeed it is YOUR FAULT. Because you didn't work hard enough. It's terribly depressing outlook, actually.

Also, no one openly laments when their child is obviously not the prettiest/cleverest but many lament when their child isn't the hardest worker. I don't get why hard work isn't seen as equally innate.

I come from a family with some criminal elements though, so I have a completely different idea of what it means to be successful in life than most MNers.

(Stepping off soapbox now).

bodiddly Tue 09-Apr-13 20:30:36

I think I believe some talents are innate but that they definitely require a great deal of hard work to go any greater level. How that relates to work, I'm uncertain.

Notmyidea Tue 09-Apr-13 20:58:48

we get regular, brief, school reports where the kids have to self assess their effort and achievement in each subject. Then the teacher adds their assessment. I've made a big thing of rewarding and commenting on the effort marks and how they are more important. I've never had to be cross about their effort being less than acceptable, but I think they know I would be. I have a more relaxed attitude to hobbies.

cory Wed 10-Apr-13 09:06:48

How do you define doing your best at play anyway? My nephew tries terribly hard at football and bursts into tears when his team loses, has been known to sulk for hours. My ds sees football as a recreational game where the important thing is that everybody has a good time. Which one of them is trying their best?

Some people in my profession see success in work as getting promotion ahead of others, throwing their weight about, getting on a higher pay scale, being seen to succeed.

Others see is as writing work that will last for generations, giving the best possible support to the people they are responsible for, creating a work atmosphere where good work can be done by others.

Which of these would you say have the work ethic? Hard to tell, isn't it? Probably what we need is a mixture of both. But a workplace where everybody only cares about winning is probably as inefficient as one where nobody cares.

bodiddly Wed 10-Apr-13 11:20:33

I am not that concerned about having to come top or be the best at everything (though of course it would be nice from time to time) - it's more a question of doing your best and working to your own ability. As others have said its about effort and knowing they are giving it their all rather than just getting by.

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