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dd making out she's less able than she is in Y1

(20 Posts)
PrincessScrumpy Sun 29-Sep-13 16:51:15

Not sure if this should be in behaviour or here.

Basically if I ask dd how she's doing she'll tell me she's rubbish and everyone else gets everything right but she's getting stuff wrong all the time.

Today she said she got 2 of her 5 spellings wrong and I said that it was very frustrating as she'd not got them wrong once at home and she burst into tears saying everyone else got them right but her. After a long conversation it turned out she didn't know how the others did at all. I then looked in her bag and found her spelling book which showed that she got 3 wrong out of 10 but the 5 we'd had at home were all right, it was 3 of the unseen words she got wrong were and went (she included an h as her other words were what and when so she followed that pattern) and people the spelt peeple (fair enough at 5yo I think).

This is just an example of her doing herself down. On Friday we were able to go into the class and look at some work they'd done and while in there I was able to see the numeracy and literacy charts on the wall that show pictures of the dc and what stage they are at. Now I'm not supporting competativeness but it was really helpful to show me dd's levels compared to others. The is one of 5 dc in the top group for literacy and that group is about 6 stages ahead of the next group of dc and in numeracy she's at the top of base 3 with only 4 dc in base 4. So seemingly doing brilliantly (which backs up feedback we had last year.

But why would she lie and tell me she's really stupid? (her words not ever mine!) I've always said I don't mind what level she is on for anything, I just want to know that she is trying her best. Any ideas? Is this normal?

Pachacuti Sun 29-Sep-13 17:01:00

She probably isn't lying. Some people (children included) just tend to focus on what they've got wrong -- so she really felt strongly about having got three spellings wrong to begin with and then they start to take on more significance in her mind the more she thinks about them, and no one else seemed to be as bothered about their test results as she was about hers so they must have done better than her so her result must have been REALLY bad... And so on.

PrincessScrumpy Sun 29-Sep-13 17:11:07

If it was a one-off I'd agree and I don't think it is deliberate lying. I worry she sees herself in such a negative way when actually she is doing so well. We give lots of praise. It just doesn't make sense to me and I don't know how to stop her seeing herself in this way.

sheridand Sun 29-Sep-13 17:58:55

I think it's a common developmental phase. My DS is currently in it ( berating himself for getting 5 out of 6 in his spellings, if one word looks messy, weeping then starting again, refusing to read because he gets the odd word wrong and has to sound it out, and he's on White, at the start of Year 2 and doing well!), and most of his older, Sept / Oct friends have already gone through it.

DS' teacher was great, made an issue out of mistakes helping us learn, and i've made mistakes all over the place to ease him through it. I have stopped reading with him for a little bit, just the odd page here and there, till his confidence resurfaces. It's early on in the year, and change has just happened, after all. I think it passes. DD on the other hand, couldn't give a monkeys if she gets zero out of ten!

Ferguson Sun 29-Sep-13 18:39:06

Although you might not insist that she does well, and assure her that 'doing her best' is what matters, maybe she still perceives any mistakes as 'failure' on her part. How is she on other subjects, including art, music, PE, games etc? Give her plenty of praise for things like that, and take the pressure off the academic subjects for a while.

She (and you) might enjoy, and find useful, the Oxford Phonics Spelling Dictionary. It lists words according to the initial SOUND, not just the letter, and also has tips for things like the 'wh' words you mentioned. It is under £7 from Amazon, and you can see sample pages HERE:

Pachacuti Sun 29-Sep-13 18:49:33

What are you giving praise for ? Giving too much generalist praise actually tends to damage self-esteem and increase insecurity.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 29-Sep-13 19:01:23

I attended a speech given by a head of one of the top girl's school the other day.
She said that a standard default position of girls is to believe that they are going to fail. We have to encourage our girls to always strive to be the best, celebrate success and learn that failure is merely another step on the road to success.
We have to teach them that a failure to try is much worse than failure to succeed. We should reward our girls for effort in the early parts of their academic careers to install this.

DeWe Sun 29-Sep-13 19:01:41

One child I know told her parents she was the worst at reading in the class. Really upset she was. Concerned parents went to have a quick chat with the teacher and discovered that she was at the top end of the second group (out of 5).
It's partually a lack of confidence. This child had assumed everyone else was doing better than her.

PrincessScrumpy Sun 29-Sep-13 19:05:10

I give praise when she does something well - like when she wrote me a beautiful not telling me she loved me (I thanked her for the sentiment and how neat her writing was/accurate spellings on all the words). Usually at home praise is more for behaviour - like helping with her younger sisters or tidying her toys etc. I always make it clear what the praise is for.

It's hard to give praise for other subjects as at 5 she isn't great at telling me what she's done in pe for example. Spellings, reading and homework is the only guide I have until parents evening. I'm not concerned about how well she's doing it's more her negativity towards herself. Thinking about it, she has always been a bit of a perfectionist so it's probably that coming through.

Sheridand - that's reassuring. Thank you.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 29-Sep-13 19:14:22

Princess I would praise how much effort went into the note and I would make no comment on the actual content of the note.
So my actually words would be "Thank you darling, well done for trying so hard".
This is also seen in a lot all girls schools by awarding marks for effort and not achievement. So a piece of work would be corrected and then the teachers comment would reflect the amount of effort they thought had gone into the piece.

PrincessScrumpy Sun 29-Sep-13 20:09:50

I understand what you are saying but she was pleased with the fact she'd written it neatly and wanted me to check for mistakes so to ignore that would destroy her confidence. But I will take that on board.

Lonecatwithkitten Sun 29-Sep-13 20:25:53

So I would make the big wonderful fuss for wonderful fantastic effort and then yes it is correct.

zulubump Sun 29-Sep-13 20:28:30

This thread is reassuring me! I'd just come on Mumsnet looking for some help because my dd, also in year 1, has in the last week begun to think of herself as not doing well at school. She is a bright girl, probably not top of class, but I think achieving all she should be and has always been enthusiastic about her learning. So I was a bit surprised last week when she didn't want to go to school and told me she was getting all her number work wrong and that she is in the "bad reading group"! She was in tears this evening talking about going in tomorrow. I did ask her teacher last week if there had been any problems and she'd said she hadn't noticed dd having any particular problems.

Like you PrincessScrumpy I wish I could find the right thing to say to reassure her! I feel a bit reassured if this is a normal phase for kids to go through. I guess they get to a point when they become more aware of how those around them are doing and start comparing themselves for the first time.

MoominMammasHandbag Sun 29-Sep-13 20:43:52

Gosh, those literacy and numeracy charts seem a bit....brutal. Not nice to realise you are bottom of the league at 5.
My DD1 was always a bit sad to never make it out of the middle group in Primary school. She has always thought of herself as average academically. But her nice village school was stuffed with very high achievers. Even now, getting As and Bs at AS, she insists she's not that bright.
League table does not put the kid's ability into a larger context, simply measures them against each other.

PrincessScrumpy Sun 29-Sep-13 20:55:52

Moomin - it's done in a clear way so all the dc can see what they are aiming for but I must admit I was surprised at it. Tbh it was useful for me to know dd's feelings and reality aren't necessarily matched up and I think it's fine so long as parents don't use those charts to compete. dd doesn't know I've seen them and I don't think I'll mention it. Just support her and hope the phase ends soon.

Pachacuti Sun 29-Sep-13 21:03:02

Being a perfectionist often goes hand in hand with being hard on oneself and (potentially) being unwilling to try because you're afraid of failing. You're more likely than average to have to push the message that making mistakes is an important way of learning and isn't a bad thing, and that being prepared to try new things and not to give up if things are tough is far more important than how she actually does.

A good praise strategy with perfectionists is to find a very specific aspect of what they've done that you know they found more difficult and had to work at -- whether or not it's one of the objectively better aspects of what they've done -- and focus on that.

MoominMammasHandbag Sun 29-Sep-13 21:05:10

I think it's fine so long as the parents don't use those charts to compete.

Hmmm good luck with that.

Periwinkle007 Sun 29-Sep-13 21:21:18

charts? I don't think they have these in my daughter's Yr1 class, mind we aren't allowed in - I got in briefly the other day because there was an issue which needed sorting out but otherwise no parents allowed in the building. They only chart they have up as far as I know is a reading chart which is based either on how many times they have read at home each week or how many books they have read, different rules in different classes.

I think it is probably partly because in Yr1 they start doing more formal learning so whereas in Reception she obviously felt comfortable and confident with getting everything right, this year they are starting to stretch them a bit more and suddenly she is finding things are a bit more complicated and sometimes she might get things wrong.

You do need to try and deal with the perfectionist trait now, whilst she is still young. I speak from experience when I say it can make life VERY miserable but I am struggling to do the same with my daughter at the moment.

I would go with praising effort more than anything else, praise the thought behind something, the note she did you, I would try to say that what a lovely thought, how kind of you and yes it is very nicely written too.

Also try and let her see you making mistakes so that she sees everyone makes them. Show her you practicing something to learn how to do it better. that kind of thing.

ShoeWhore Sun 29-Sep-13 21:28:21

Praising effort is definitely the way to go.

ds2 can be like this too. He's really very bright and last year was in the top group for everything despite being the youngest in his class - yet he often beat himself up for not being able to do every single thing the very bright September born girl sat next to him could do.

He seems better this year so I hope this passes for your dd soon too.

keepsmiling12345 Sun 29-Sep-13 21:41:13

I'm outraged by idea of charts on the wall noting every DC's position. Love the irony of OP's comment that as long as parents don't use those charts to compete when that is exactly what she has done to identify that her DC is "doing brilliantly". By the way, I agree praising effort is the way to go. The fact that you checked out exactly where your DD is I relation to the rest of her class suggests you may need to work on this!

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