Saturday, 15 October 2011

Confidence trick

It's fascinating watching your children growing up and watching their personalities develop. The differences between the two are amazing. Where Monkey is volatile and will blow up over the slightest thing sometimes, Missy Woo is calm and relatively pragmatic.

There is one area where I spot a difference in their personalities and it slightly disturbs me. It manifests itself largely when they practice their reading at home with us, and I wonder if it is noticeable at school.

Give Monkey a challenging text to read and he'll have a bash. Do the same to Missy Woo and she crumbles, to the point that she'll falter and falter until she starts to get simple words wrong that I know (and she knows) she knows. In other words, Monkey will believe he can, even if he can't, whereas Missy Woo will believe she can't, even if she can. I know that boys tend to be more inherent risk takers so I wonder if it is a gender difference, but it concerns me. It also frustrates me because I know Missy Woo can do better. Last week, we had to give up with a book that Missy had chosen but just didn't seem to like - it was simple poetry but the presence of big words, as it was about dinosaurs, seem to throw her and she couldn't even read the word "my". The teacher changed her book to one she believed she could do and the words flowed from her. The thing is, they are the same level of reading ability.

Generally, she is a confident child, if a little more reserved than her brother. She can start off shy with new people but give her a few minutes and she can be talking the hind legs off a donkey. She'll happily go to parties and not cling to me; in fact, she'll send me away! For her age, she's doing brilliantly at school and that's not bragging; she's one of the best readers in her class despite being one of the youngest and she's just been Star of the Week at school. She just seems to get these occasional bouts of incredible self-doubt that almost cripple her. At times, it is tiredness but that is not always the problem. I try not to make an issue of it but it's hard when you know she's capable of reading a word that she can't. We make clear to her that we just want her to try her best but she seems scared of making a mistake so she panics. We praise her when she does well in anything and she knows that we love her and are there for her. What else can we do?

It's really bothering me at the moment as I don't want her to be held back by what's inside her head. I can think of ways to help adults remove limiting beliefs, but it's harder to get children to do the same thing using the same techniques.  I can't figure out if she is only like this with us, or whether she just manages not to make it noticeable when she's at school. Whenever we've mentioned it to teachers, they don't recognise the child we're talking about.

If you have any words of advice because you've encountered this yourself with your children, I'd be very grateful of a comment or two.

She's a bright little girl, who is in danger of dimming her own light, and I want her to shine. Help me to help her shine as brightly as I know she can.
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