Wednesday, June 15, 2011

P is for Perfectionist

Emily has been going through a little bit of preschool withdrawal since school let out a few weeks ago.  Thus, we've been working our way through a bunch of preschool level activity books, and she loves it.  One day when she was finished with one page in the book I suggested that we practice writing her name.  She's been good with the letters, E, I, and L for awhile now, but still asks for help with the M and the Y.

Almost immediately after we started, she burst into tears, truly upset because her "M" didn't look like a perfect "M".  Glancing down, I could have guessed which letter it was, but agreed it wasn't quite right.  I assured her that was okay, that she'd get better the more we practiced, that lots of people struggle with learning new things, etc.  The angst in her eyes did not improve.  Instead, she told me that she HAD to be able to write her name.  After some more prodding, she said that this was because when the teacher asked everyone to write their names on their papers, she wanted to do it.   Now, I'm not quite sure which teachers asked her this (all her preschool classmates had adult handwriting on their projects) but I told her I'd help.  After several more attempts, experimenting with which lines to draw first, uppercase or lowercase, etc. something clicked and she got it.

Instead of being excited, she just looked relieved.  I feel badly for my perfectionist daughter, not sure where this internal pressure is coming from (I have deliberately not pushed letter writing yet), and a little nervous about this tendency as she grows older and struggles with more things.  At the same time, I'm proud - she worked really hard at this until she got it and didn't give up.  Once we mastered the "M" we worked on the "Y" and she can write her name flawlessly now.  Way to go, Em!  Just don't be so hard on yourself, okay?  You're a pretty terrific, very perceptive little three year old.

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