A Perfect Storm

First, a little more reflection from yesterday’s post. I really think that I had just been doing too much when we started out this year. I had no time for housework, which really means that the girls had no time for free play. After writing my post yesterday, I feel much more centered and confident about our direction. I really think we need two mornings a week at home. I also think that we can still have 1 activity from a weekly unit theme, and 1 additional activity (math, language, history, etc) for the days that we stay home in the morning. On the busier days (both morning and afternoon outings), I will only plan 1 activity, so that there is still plenty of free play (and read-out-louds will still be every day, regardless). My mantra will be to not interrupt free play, within reason, and to let the girls come to me with interest.

Seriously, today felt like a weight off my shoulders, and a much better pace for all of us. We did a follow-up unit activity and some math in the morning. I was just about to start another activity with them, when I caught myself. I figured if they got bored later in the afternoon (or started to bicker) we could do that, otherwise, we’ve done enough for the day. So so happy about this shift! I was expecting this year to learn about what homeschooling will look like for our family, but I did not anticipate it to be happening in the first month already!

And now, back to my post:

M is a perfectionist. And a stormy one at that.

Thank goodness she is not a perfectionist about her speech (that would be insane!) but when it comes to writing/drawing, she is a perfectionist. We’ve had about 5 instances this past year where M will make a “mistake” and yell, blame me, and be unwilling to find a solution, until the rage eventually passes over her.

This morning, she started to write 18 as 81. I pointed it out to her, ready to help her fix it (we have already learned to use pencils for work so mistakes can be erased easily). She immediately blew up at  me, saying that it was my fault and I should have prevented her from making the mistake. I told her that everyone makes mistakes and that mistakes are wonderful learning opportunities. She just kept yelling at me that she was perfect and she doesn’t make mistakes and it’s my fault. By the end of her rage, I was on the floor crying, ready to admit defeat.

Homeschooling a perfectionist will be a challenge…but I’m up for it.

After she finally calmed down enough to discuss what happened (by the way, there is no point in me trying to discuss the situation when she is that charged with emotion, but I keep doing that, doh!), she really wanted to continue on with the math lesson. I told her that we needed to figure out what will happen the next time she makes a mistake, because she will (we all do), and I do not want to subject myself to such anger and hostility. I love homeschooling her, but that is not healthy, for either of us. So I suggested that she get 2 puppets out and we roleplay. She played the Mama and I played her. M loved acting out the scenario, and I really hope it will help her (roleplaying is supposed to be a great learning and therapeutic tool, right?). I’m thinking of roleplaying the situation frequently, maybe once a week, maybe before we sit down to do writing work? I don’t know, because she has blown up at me once when we were coloring together and I colored something “wrong”, so it’s not easily predictable. I’ve also already ordered this book, The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, from the library, but it will be awhile before it’s available (I think I’m #3 on the hold list).

We finished the lesson without another incident, and I feel really good about how it was eventually resolved, even though it was a little bit hairy in the thick of it. (Yes, I can do this, even when I think I can’t!)

I wonder if her perfectionism is overcompensating for her speech, as in she doesn’t have any control over the fact that she is unintelligible to strangers, so she wants to have full control and be completely perfect in other areas of her life? I’ve asked other apraxic parents about it, and there were some similarities, but part of it also might just be her age and maturity level too. Big emotions in little ones is one of the reasons why I think parenting gets harder the older a child gets. It’s so much easier to meet their needs as babies, when all they need is to nurse and be held.

Do you have a perfectionist child? What has worked for you and your little in this situation?

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