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8yr old step-daughter doesn't hand in school work for fear of getting a low level (mark)

(4 Posts)
jennivieve Fri 25-May-12 19:03:57

Today on the way home from school she told me that she often doesn't get much class-work done or finished, and she doesn't hand in work that she has done/has started because she's worried about being marked low - and I assume is also worried about being moved down in the class (her maths and literacy lessons are banded by ability within the school year, and in her literacy set the teacher has also arranged the children on to tables according to ability.)
The literacy teacher has said previously that she has good ideas, but struggles to put the ideas into writing on her own, but with a bit of coaxing and encouragement, she is able. Step-daughter said herself on the way home that she has good ideas, but isn't good at putting them into sentences, so I am reassured that she at least believes herself to have good ideas.
With many things - puzzles, games, construction toys - if she perceives them to be difficult, she will immediately insist that she can't do it, and even when shown how to do something, and worked alongside in learning the skill, she will keep a very negative view of what she is achieving; e.g. it's not her doing it, but you helping that is getting it done.
Things that she can do, or has previously been confident in doing, such as knitting, upon making an error or forgetting how to do something, she will immediately be defeated and insist that she can't do it. Even when re-coached and reassured, she will maintain a negative view of her ability.
I avoid saying anything along the lines of 'See, you can do it' when she does achieve something she thinks she can't, and instead say 'Well done' or 'Good job', as saying 'see, you can do it' just seems to reinforce to her that she was wrong about something, rather than that she was able in something, and will often lead to another negative spiral.
Any advice or referrals to useful information regarding building a childs' confidence would be greatly appreciated, as I'm terrified that this fear of failure that she has developed will become ingrained and hold her back from doing or achieving many things which she may be interested in, as well as prevent her from achieving what she is capable of at school.
Sorry this is so long, and thank you for anything you can offer.

AdventuresWithVoles Fri 25-May-12 20:16:17

I am wondering about praising effort rather than achievement.

Some common ways to boost confidence: drama, social clubs, successful risk taking.

doodlecloud Fri 25-May-12 23:03:48

Aww, poor girl....that can't be fun for her.

A few general ideas:

1. Lots and lots of praise (for effort as well as achievement) and encouragement!

2. Maybe it would be good to try something completely new to all of you as well? Try it together, have some slip ups yourselves, really get back to basics and reinstall the fact that failure is fine and actually sometimes good as long as you learn from it.

3. Try and find some stuff she really enjoys so she forgets to focus on whether she's doing well or not and just has fun.

4. Find some stuff which she hasn't tried before but you're sure she'll be able to do based on her other skills so she can be pleasantly suprised when she succeeds after taking the risk. Hopefully boost herself up a bit (though if she doesn't succeed, obviously try not to show any disappointment >.<).

doodlecloud Fri 25-May-12 23:11:22

Oh and just gives her loads of love. Try and give her some quality time with both parents separately and together. Doesn't seem to have much to do with confidence but children tend to benefit from that kind of stuff so much whatever the problem. Just let her know that she's loved no matter what and that you find her interesting and wonderful as a person. Let her know that youre interested in what she has to say, particularly her literary ideas if that's something that she thinks she might be good at but isn't confident with. Don't try and pull them out of her but if whenever she mentions them you're positive, attentive and ask open questions maybe she'll stop thinking about it so much and just let the ideas flow, even if, for now, it's just at home with you guys and she doesn't bother writing them down.

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