Monday, January 17, 2011

Overcoming Frustration

What to do with a six-year-old who is frustrated from learning to tie his shoes? Make him do it again. Grit and Grin and tie it again. And again. And again. OR end up tying shoes for a 30-year-old man (???) Yeah. No.

Each of my three older children are different in this way. Maestro has had a lot of experience at things coming relatively easy for him. With music, he has never had to really press through frustration because he "gets it" on the first or second try. It's just his thing. Smeagol, on the other hand, has long had to work for every. single. step.
Early on, frustration hit Smeagol at every turn, in many areas of life. As a result he has learned to work through it. His attitude is more one of: I can do this. I just have to keep working at it until I do.

What a difference that attitude makes in a day of home schooling! Last week, we started formal, learn-at-home piano lessons using a program called Legacy Learning. I managed to get it on sale just after Thanksgiving. As it turns out, (of course), Maestro thrives on that sort of system; Smeagol, not so much. He was frustrated in the first ten minutes. Two hours later, we had worked through it, figured out where the letters were on the keyboard and were trying to get our two hands to work together for some chord work.

That difference in attitude will make a huge difference in their lives - already is, really.

There have been a number of days where Smeagol is done with his work pretty early in the day and Maestro is still slogging at it in the late afternoon. This is more because he just doesn't like to have to work at it, and instead wants to be great at it from the beginning and also wants to not have to do it to begin with. He'd rather play. I completely sympathize: who among us wouldn't rather spend the day in leisurely activities?

But our bodies are made to work and, I believe, to work hard.

We're not meant to while our days away doing little nothings and those that I've seen who do end up in depression or struggling through life, feeling relatively ineffective in life. I'm looking to help my boys - and girlie - avoid that future.

SO we're having a practice session at shoe tying in our house this morning. Bruiser has gotten it a
few times but has hit a wall of Lego-throwing frustration. I have stopped him more than once to give him a minute to breath and get back in the game. It is a time-intensive process but he is also learning to overcome frustration and difficulty. A needed skill no matter where you go or what you do in life.

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