Monday, December 17, 2018

My blog friend wrote an interesting article on her blog where she voiced a concern about bright children peaking too early, getting too confident and therefore crashing later because of their reliance on "winging it." I think it's a very legitimate concern, and I am worried about this when I look at Smarty.
Undoubtedly, she is very smart. She reads super fast, easily grasps concepts and enjoys learning. But... she is not "sticky" and she does not have a habit of doing anything consistently on her own, if one does not count reading and browsing Scratch. She has this habit of starting multiple projects - stories, journals, artwork, Scratch programs, but then she just abandons them. She does get good grades, but... she mostly adopts very minimalist attitude to her work, not going further than what's needed to get an "A". An interesting "use case" was her "preparation" for AMC8 competition this year. Her current school does not have a math club, and I decided not to pester her even though I reminded her a couple of times that AMC8 is coming up soon. Her preparation was to ask for one test the day before an actual event. Her actual AMC8 result was worse than she had in 6th grade - only 15 points out of 25. A similar story happened with her school's spelling bee - she was so sure she would win that she spent very little time preparing for it. As a result, she embarrassingly dropped out in the 4th round by spelling aquamarine wrong.
All this does worry me and my husband. How do we encourage our very bright, very enthusiastic child to develop passions, to follow through, to practice, and to study if so far she was able to be fairly successful without really applying that much effort? More importantly, how do we teach her to be self-directed and not to do things only for a grade or for approval of others?
My hope is that right now Smarty's body and brain are in the period of rapid growth and development, which might look like regression from her previous high points of achievement. I want to believe that if she continues to get enough challenge in school, her executive skills of time management and self-regulation will improve. I also want to believe that some natural consequences might help her realize that she does need to put more efforts into competitive events where the stakes are higher and other participants are spending time and energy to prepare. Nobody ever only goes up - after a peak there comes a valley and a readjustment that will, if handled well, will lead to even higher levels of performance. For this hope, I am grateful.

Your Turn

Are you worried about your kids' development?


MaryAnne K. said...

This is a very complex topic. With my kids (and my own childhood) I see self sabotage more than over confidence being the greatest risk - where you don't try your hardest because it doesn't hurt quite as much when you fail. The problem is, it's not very satisfying when you approach life that way, either!

Ticia said...

I struggle with the same worries with Princess, she has a tendency to either get it on the first or second try or give up.
I don't really know a good way to solve this, because if I'm fully honest, she struggles with the same things I struggled with. Your descriptions of Smarty at her big competitions were the same way I was in school.