I have a question about my oldest son. He is a good child, helpful around the house, plays nicely with his siblings, good grades, kind and inclusive at school, etc. But when my husband or I try to instruct him on something, he gets uncomfortable sometimes to the point of tears. A simple example: we were all learning how to do push-ups (they mentioned doing them in gym class), I was correcting Johnny and little sister Jane’s form. Jane (5 years old) had no problem accepting the correction. Johnny started laughing, fidgeting, doing something goofy, etc. It isn't until you get firm with him that he will "listen" and even then you can tell it is painful for him to get corrected. He finally does it correctly then mumbles on his way out of the room “I did it right the first time”. This drives my husband nuts as he thinks he isn't being respectful and should be open to learning. I think Johnny has an issue with not being perfect and I am trying to figure out how to curb the anxiety when he doesn't get a 100% or do something right the first time.
James would say that Johnny can't be a perfectionist because he doesn't work on something over and over to get it right. I don't think you need that to want to be perfect all the time. However, James is a huge perfectionist and I definitely used to be. Anyway, I am reaching out mainly because we want Johnny to be comfortable with learning new things and accepting criticism. Any advice you have would be appreciated!
What’s the primary focus here: wanting your child to be comfortable learning or “acting right”? Most parents I have worked with would be plenty aggravated when their kid appears to not be listening, then departs and mutters he did it right the first time. So is it perceived disrespect that is the issue here? As this appears to be your eldest child, the fact is that y’all have never entered into this part of the child rearing arena before. That being the case, we parents have much to learn as well. Remember going from nursing (or the bottle) to solids? How did that new digestion system like it? As I recall, it was a semi-painful (and stinky) transition. The same is true with most of these developmental steps. This is the beginning of learning how to learn. It’s another painful transition. We know as adults, to admit you don’t know something is a sign of strength and willingness to learn. As a kid, means you must be stupid or something. Remember not asking a question in class for exactly this reason? Take deep breath good parents; it’s ok to have some little boy ego issues with learning. Girls’ egos are easier to deal with than boys. Relax. Patiently teach, and regardless of their reaction, they’re learning. You want him to improve at learning? It seems appropriate that y’all lead the way.
ps: if we have some bad habits we do not wish for our children to learn, it’s best to either improve upon them, or hide them away. Over perfectionism comes to mind. Let’s keep these kids healthy, and raise them to be better than ourselves.