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My daughter will be turning 8 in a few days, and I have been unsuccessful in trying to get her to stop crying when she becomes frustrated. Examples are: She is currently in dance & takes 8 classes a week, which she loves. She believes she is excelling in all classes, which she is, however if there is a time when the teacher teaches a new step and she can't get it within the 1st few minutes, she becomes frustrated & cries....

In gymnastics, she takes a semi-private class with her best friend who has been in gymnastics for 5 years, and she cries every single time when the teacher is showing her how to do an Arial & her friend can. She still continues with all classes & does stop crying & continues to work on the steps. I have explained that her friend has taken so many more gymnastics classes than her & that she will eventually get it if she continues to work hard at it, because she always ends up learning anything that was hard, the more she practices.

My daughter seems to be a perfectionist, she stands out in her dance classes & the teachers seem to really take an interest in her, however when she cries she loses focus, but still carries on with the class & then stops crying.

I have talked to her several times about it, not sure what else could be said to her in order to have her learn to deal with frustration in a different manner rather than tears?? Please help.

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3 Answers 3

Honestly, I wouldn't be too concerned about the crying. It may simply be her reaction to stress - the stress of trying something and having trouble with it. It sounds like it's not carrying on and on crying, just limited-in-time crying. Very, very successful athletes cry when they fail at something; have you seen the then-viral picture of the gymnast crying after the past (2012) Olympics? That's extremely common for highly successful people, many of which are indeed perfectionists. It's okay, as long as it's not interfering with their lives or activities - or their social life.

However, in terms of what you can do, consider focusing on effort rather than, or in addition to, performance when you give her praise. Praise that she gave a good run at something, rather than only that she actually achieved it. If she stayed up all night studying for a test, praise that - before the test results are known.

Also, continue to push her to try things she's bad at. Some kids (myself as a child included) enjoy earning praise for being good at things that they focus strongly on things they are good at. I was terrible at sports, and wish I'd been pushed harder to spend more time doing sports as a child - because as an adult it took me a long time to learn to cope with being bad or mediocre at something.

When you're excelling in almost everything, it is indeed hard to understand how to deal with not instantly understanding everything. She should be encouraged to do things she's not strong in (in addition to the things she enjoys/is good at more) so she can develop that. Encourage her to try things that are outside of her comfort zone, and praise her for trying them. Learn a totally new sport, play chess, start running in marathons.

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My daughter just turned 8 and does the same thing. The problem is that she is a perfectionist and wants to be excellent at everything she does. Guess what? She wasn't awesome the first time she tried the harmonica. Or skiing. Or Snowboarding. Or skating. Or judo.

And every time we sit and I tell her the same thing when she says, "I'm not good." I say something like...

"No, you're not. You're pretty awful, actually. But that's okay because nobody is good at something the first time they try. Try again or leave it for now and try again later. With some time and practice, you'll get better. You still won't be good, but you'll be better than you are now. Keep practicing and eventually you will be good."

Some time later we reflect on her progress, talk about how she felt when she started, and how well she's doing now.

These days by daughter skis like a bat out of hell. Snowboards blue runs (this is her first year). Plays ringette. Has a yellow belt in judo. And can manage Twinkle Twinkle on the harmonica.

It's frustrating (for both of us) every time but she keeps trying. My little girl rocks!

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It's an old educational style to praise children for high skills and compare them to others in order to be ready for a heavily competing world. Knowing the expectations of the parents and teachers the child can be frustrated when can't reach those high expectations. This can lead to poor self confidence and lack of courage in front of new challenges.
The new type of educational style is to encourage the child to just improve step by step and never compare with others but him/herself, therefore to be happy for any small improvements. This give the child confidence that parents and teachers trust him/her that did the best for a given task and such approach is preparing the child for an adult world where is more important to be serious in every task (which will be more appreciated by a boss) rather than being a failing genius.
To help the kid's confidence try to praise any good thing he/she's doing (no matter how small it is) rather than expose every mistake.

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