My three children are very different, which is good because if they were the same it would be boring and I’m pretty sure they would just spend their whole day asking me for something to eat. Oh wait?
Anyway, Miss L, the eldest, strives to be perfect at everything. If she can’t write the letter R perfectly she will most probably have a small meltdown and then quietly, when no-one is watching, will practise writing it until it is perfect. She will show the entire family her perfect R and ask for much praise.
“I am excellent at writing the letter R, aren’t I?” she’ll exclaim proudly.
“Yes, you are honey – EXCELLENT at it,” we’ll reply repeatedly, until she moves onto her next endeavour.
Miss E, our middle child, will attempt to write the letter R, if it’s not perfect straight away, she’ll just move onto another letter. She might try it again at a later date, if she can be bothered.
“I’m pretty good at writing letter R, but I’m much better at Ts,” she’ll say matter-of-factly, then she’ll go and play.
“Yes, you are honey – PRETTY GOOD at it,” we’ll shout, as she runs off distracted.
Miss H, our youngest child, will argue with us about what the letter R looks like. We’ll say it’s an R, she’ll say no, and then she’ll get one of her sisters to write it for her.
I love watching how they learn and we are slowly working out ways to tailor the way we encourage them.
We know we have to back-off with Miss L as she already puts enough pressure on herself, we have to give Miss E just a little push or she’ll happily sit idly watching the world pass her by, because frankly she’s not too fussed, and when it comes to Miss H, she’ll be just fine I reckon.
Although we play on their own desire to compete with each other, particularly when it comes to helping out, we’re starting to discover even that isn’t working.
As Miss E stated today, when she refused to get dressed and I told her she wasn’t going to “win” the getting ready race: “It doesn’t matter, I’m not going to come last, I’m going to come third and third’s fine”.
And you know what, third is fine. What’s the deal with trying to push your children into being the best? I’d much rather my kids do what makes them happy, at their own pace, rather than feeling pressured to always push themselves to their limits.
I think pursuing perfection is somewhat futile, unless of course that’s what makes you happy. What do you think?