Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Made a Mistake Dealing With My Mistakes

Tonight I went to an informational gathering for parents of gifted children. It was hosted by a mom of a couple gifted boys, and featured a psychologist who works with gifted children.

I learned a few interesting details about testing and public education for gifted kids and whatnot, but the biggest take-away I got from the event is that I have been SERIOUSLY EFFING UP MY CHILD.

Here's how: We talked about the well-known fact that gifted children are prone to paralyzing perfectionism. Like, "I don't want to try because if I make a mistake, then it might prove that I'm not as smart as everyone says I am."

I raised my hand and described how Nutmeg is now reading a few easy books. But if I pick up another book, which I'm sure she could read a lot of words of, and suggest she try it, she always declines. I never hear her sound out words; she will only read a book aloud when she can read each word perfectly.

So, I asked the psychologist, what should I do? I was expecting advice about whether to leave her alone or continue to encourage her to challenge herself with more books.

Instead, I got a totally shocking piece of advice: If you want your kids to understand that it's ok to make mistakes, model this acceptance yourself. As in, when you make a mistake, what do you do?

Well, if you're me, you fret, you swear, you curse yourself, you waste hours mentally pinpointing exactly who bears what percentage of the blame for the mistake and just where it all went wrong.

And if another adult in the household makes a mistake, God help him. I berate, curse and guilt-trip.

I was so overcome with guilt when I realized the terrible mistake-dealing-with modeling I was doing for the kids, I started to beat myself about the head right there at the meeting. That's right: I was beating myself up over the mistake of not dealing well with my mistakes.

I already knew that it's a good idea to be calm about children's mistakes. A good idea but a challenge. It just never occurred to me to look at how I deal with my own mistakes, and with Epu's.

I've got some work to do on this one, and I think if I improve in this area we will all benefit.

Let's just hope I don't eff it up.


Kim Moldofsky said...

Thanks for attending and linking!

The discussion about dealing with mistakes was eye-opening. Perfectionism is one of the gifted traits that we don't see much of in our house!

Good luck as you change your ways. Your girls are still young and adaptable. :-)

Jeevita said...

Wow, that was really interesting. Not that I am perfectionist or anything, but both my husband and I tend to beat ourselves up too much over trivial things. Our son is of course too young to understand - or so we think... who knows!