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I can't do it ..... suggestions of ways to promote self-esteem

Discussion in 'Early Years' started by cbenny1483, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. This year I have a little boy who has really developed an 'I can't do it' attitude. I was interested in finding out if people had any suggestions to help develop self-esteem.
    A little bit about him:
    He has the most fantastic imagination, loves playing games and is always keen to share things.
    His main area of 'I can't do it' lies within phonics, writing and reading. He is definitely more able than he thinks he is! He is starting to blend CVC words and can recognise the phonemes. In his reading we read really repetitive books and do high fives/ loads of praice etc when he has a go at something. He won't have a go at writing, as he hits his self-panic button before even starting. I have suggested to mum that they read these books as often as he can to help him realise he can do it!
    The sad thing is that today we were talking about why everyone is special and he said he wasn't special, even when I told him how he was so important in our class because he always came up with the best ideas, he was insistent he wasn't :-(
    So any suggestions beyond practise and positive praise to the extreme? I don't want him to move on to year 1 where expectations will increase, giving up on things before even trying.
     
  2. This year I have a little boy who has really developed an 'I can't do it' attitude. I was interested in finding out if people had any suggestions to help develop self-esteem.
    A little bit about him:
    He has the most fantastic imagination, loves playing games and is always keen to share things.
    His main area of 'I can't do it' lies within phonics, writing and reading. He is definitely more able than he thinks he is! He is starting to blend CVC words and can recognise the phonemes. In his reading we read really repetitive books and do high fives/ loads of praice etc when he has a go at something. He won't have a go at writing, as he hits his self-panic button before even starting. I have suggested to mum that they read these books as often as he can to help him realise he can do it!
    The sad thing is that today we were talking about why everyone is special and he said he wasn't special, even when I told him how he was so important in our class because he always came up with the best ideas, he was insistent he wasn't :-(
    So any suggestions beyond practise and positive praise to the extreme? I don't want him to move on to year 1 where expectations will increase, giving up on things before even trying.
     
  3. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    This sounds a lot like my grandson, one of twins. His brother took to reading alsmost as soon as he started in Reception but this one although, as you say, quite capable was very reluctant. Perhaps he was inhibited by his apparantly more able twin, perhaps he just wasn't ready. In year 1 he suddenly blossomed and now reads all the time and writes his own stories and 'books of facts' at home so, I think, probably the latter.
    In other words, perhaps this child needs a bit of breathing space. Piling on the pressure will only make him feel more inadequate.
     
  4. Msz

    Msz Established commenter

    always end a " I can't do it" with a YET!
     
  5. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    You could reward him for not saying it and for having a go at whatever he is asked to do. It might currently be something he just likes to say, not something he truly believes ......... in certain situations it might be getting him out of something he doesn't want to do. So whatever his motivation for saying it, rewarding him for not saying it could have positive results.
    It might be better not to discuss it with him; if he truly believes he can't do it, he will just think you are humouring him. He might have assessed himself pretty accurately against some other individual(s) who he knows does it all better and just think you are soft-soaping him.
    It's also interesting that it is those particular areas of learning that give him the can't do it attitude - when you think about it those tasks are pretty unrewarding when you can't really do it - it's all slog for no great interest value. Every kid can see that the books that they can read are dull as ditchwater compared with the books that can be read to them, and that their writing is rubbish compared with a grown-up or the books they read. Maybe he needs to learn reading by a different method in order to feel chuffed by the results or maybe it's just a phase where if he achieves competence fast (he's definitely a candidate for being demoralised by spending years slogging through the lower levels of a reading scheme) his attitude will suddenly change?
     
  6. inky

    inky Lead commenter

    Ah, the magic word YET. I use it so often....
     
  7. I think what is perhaps needed is to see what he does when it is of his own choice. It may well just be that he smells the rat of insincerity and feels that what we call teaching is a tawdry game of manipulation. He MAY just have an innner learning agenda which to him is far more interesting but he is protecting. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see many letter and word strings emerging in his own freely chosen activities in the 'graphics ' area - or with any graphics resources available. I empathise very much with some children who may have been quite happily deciphering, dedcoding, exporing the links betwwen lines and letters and who would benefit from beng helped along this line of exploration by the encouragement to encounter more of the same patterns.


    There just MIGHT be the possibility that he has been put off his own genuinely determined scientific investigation of the fascinating stages of early literacy by the too early, insensitive, blanket, literacy content-based objectives of a teaching system that puts teaching above learning. That is to say he may have been overly directed BEFORE he had the chance to secure his own hard won advances and no amount of false praise, stickers or smiley faces will make up for the fact that inside he kn ows it is not abouthis own agenda but about one that others weill set for him, for now and ever more amen. He is not special in his own terms bnut in the terms of others who want him to conform in a certain way.


    Of course it might be NONE of this. In early literacy I think there is a grave danger of skipping over, ignoring or not being aware of the importance of the self-won understandings, the hypothesis that are evident in childrens drawing and scribble work, sensitively supported, highlighted, jointly-explored, celebrated and shared within the class. It is a danger ever more prominent these days with the insistent race for highly focused phonics teaching in the very early years at the expense -and often ridicule,- of the cumulative child-development lead experiences of children. It is the same as children being taken on a walk - or children going for a walk. One is hard work, dragging a horse to water kind of stuff, the child to its CVC destination, hand held firmly, feet following a marching rhythm, a grim faced adult with a train to catch or a shop a about to close offering promises of sweets and ice-creams if only they'd just hurry along; the other is a meandering, seemingly endless set of deviations, digressions and discussion but also of continuous exploration.


    Perhaps it is none of this, and sorry for seeming perhaps a little pretentious but for the child's sake I thought to mention it. You may well be doing all the above and it might only be the last sentence, about the external speed being too fast that might be relevant. Or not.
     

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