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DS 3.8 is scared of trying new games/activities etc in case he gets it wrong [sad]

(13 Posts)
Minkus Wed 27-Aug-08 14:49:02

How can I help him overcome this? It's related to anything that involves learning a new skill that a child needs to practice to become proficient. For example, he doesn't want to do any drawing because what he ends up with on the page is not what he actually wants to draw and this really frustrates him- I think he wants to run before he can walk as it were.

Another eg, dh plays golf and practices putting in the garden. DS has his own mini golf club and gets really annoyed when he can't get the ball in the hole. So dh encourages him and gently helps him to learn- but ds gets even more annoyed at "having" to do it someone elses way. This sort of thing ends in tears of frustration all the time and he's started saying that he doesn't want to do colouring etc because "it's impossible" (his words)

We've used words of encouragement and praising whatever effort he makes, no matter how small and emphasising that some things are a bit tricky and need practice, I'm at a bit of a loss now though and it makes me really sad that my lovely little boy doesn't want to do some normal little boy things because he doesn't want to fail.

Any ideas?

stealthsquiggle Wed 27-Aug-08 14:58:24

More empathy than help - DS is much the same.

Does he go to nursery/playgroup? It seemed that in a group of his peers DS was slightly more willing to try things. He is nearly 6 now, and his teachers still say he sets himself impossibly high standards, but he has at least stopped bursting into tears if he doesn't (in his view) meet them.

I am trying to think what we did, but apart from stopping trying to teach him much ourselves (golf, for example, he is really good at, but only because he learns from a great pro in a group where he can shine) I can't really think of anything specific - sorry.

scattyspice Wed 27-Aug-08 16:19:23

Hi Minkus. My DS (5) is the same. His teacher at school commented on it also. He is reluctant to try something unless he is sure he can do it perfectly and gets v frustrated if he something doesn't work out.

He is improving and to be honest I've found if I leave things until he feels ready (even if other similar aged children are already doing it) he picks things up quite quickly. EG At Easter holidays I tried to take him out on his bike (with stabilisers) always ended in tears. However last week he suddenly showed an interest and after going out several times he is nearly ready to loose the stabilisers. The same happened with swimming, drawing, jigsaw puzzles etc. I'm hoping the same will happen with reading this year as he is very resistent to trying atm. hmm

tortoiseshell Wed 27-Aug-08 16:22:14

Dd is the same - she is 5. She is very very bright, very academically able (top groups for everything, though youngest in the class). Apparently this is a common thing to find in bright children - they like getting praise for doing well in things like reading etc, and don't want to be seen to be not so good at other things.

So we have tried to model ourselves getting things wrong - to show that it is ok to have a go and get things wrong. She is improving, but it is part of her personality.

Niecie Wed 27-Aug-08 16:28:23

My DS2 (4.11)is the same. I am told he is very bright but he won't try anything new until he knows he stands a good chance of doing it. He won't hold a pencil or draw at all because he says he can't do it. He was even like that with potty training - he was very resistant until he was convinced he could do it.

His pre-school used to keep providing the opportunity to do things and eventually he gives it a go but it is a struggle and he can appear quite stroppy and angry about things when we think he is just scared.

I agree with stealth that other people, outside the family, usually get a better response than we do.

It requires a huge amount of patience doesn't it.

Minkus Wed 27-Aug-08 16:55:35

Ah its good to know that he isn't the only one- but sorry for you folks going through it too!

Niecie the stroppiness and angry bit rings a bell in particular, we've thought he's just a bit frightened of doing stuff too but I wasn't sure if I was over analysing the situation! Glad to hear not.

Acinonyx Wed 27-Aug-08 18:02:02

Dd 3 is like this. I have had some limited success with explaining how mummy had to learn to do things when I was little and that i couldn't do things exactly right either when I was little (as opposed to now, lol!). She was very affected by seeing my attempts at colouring in a nursery rhyme book from my early childhood - and clearly very heartened by the fact that I too had been 'messy' like her when I was little. It is frustrating. She gets very upset when she does something, like drawing, and it's not right. I sometimes find she will only e.g. draw if no-one is looking. She's actually pretty good at drawing and I wish she would just have fun with it and not take everything so seriously (can't think where she gets that from..... hmm )

whatdayisit Wed 27-Aug-08 18:30:09

DS1 was just like this at 3/4 yo (Now 7) He would watch and watch until he was confident he knew how to do it and no amount of encouragement would make him have a try.

I did lots of talking about how Grandad didn't used to be able to drive until he practised, Grandma couldn't cook, until she practised etc, but didn't relate it directly to him.

I stopped trying to encourage him to have a try himself, but left him to watch if that's what he wanted.

Now he is a supremely confident boy, who truly believes there is nothing he can't do smile and believes he's the best at everything blush

ForeverOptimistic Wed 27-Aug-08 18:33:00

Ds (4) is also like this. He was fine at his old montessori nursery but once he started at the nursery class at the local school he lost all confidence in his abilities. I don't think it helps that he is the youngest in the class.

Blu Wed 27-Aug-08 18:42:24

DS was very much like this - and it hindered his learning to read - he hated word recognition because he hated guessing in case he was wrong - so declined to try at all.

Partly, I think it is a matter of maturity - DS is now just 7 and has improved lots.

Also, once they started proper phonics he felt much more secure and learned very quikly - so taking a cue fm that I have always tried to introduce new things in bite-size chinks - introducing the building blocks before the whole task.

I then did a bit of tough love, and forced him to persist with some things so that he would experience the sense of achievement from keeping going even when he felt less sure. But he was 5 or 6 before I tried that.

Oh - and I found that incentives and bribery just made things worse. It was one more added thing to worry about not achieving, and DS would say 'I don't want a star' or whatever, rather than try for it. Mostly, being low-key about pressure was the most succesful tactic.

Don't worry- 3 / 4 y.o boys are still v young.

Niecie Wed 27-Aug-08 18:51:03

Minkus - I definitely think it is fear because if we are foolish enough to try and push him he will eventually go from angry to just plain scared and really upset. The anger is just a front I think, to get us to back off.

whatdayisit - Good to hear that they can grow out of it.

I have found actually that if you give a bit of gentle encouragement and then back off completely he will have a go but not always. Perhaps we are getting there.

I hate to think of him miserable throughout his life because he sets himself such high standards, thinks he has to be perfect and can't always manage it.

PinkyDinkyDooToo Wed 27-Aug-08 20:01:21

You are describing my DS1 to the letter. He is now 5 and is starting to get better. We often had tears with new things when he was younger. He is still nervous and tentative with new things but we don't have as much tears any more. He will get better I'm sure

scattyspice Thu 28-Aug-08 07:55:13

Whatdayisit / Blu good advice and very reasurring smile.

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