Our eight year old daughter writes well for her age, and has produced some really spectacular pieces in class. She's not terribly interested in writing for fun at home, though. When she does, what she puts down is often pretty awful, even by the standards of an 8 year old.
Over the weekend she spent some time putting a poem together and she's really pleased with it, and proud of what she's done. Today she wanted to take it into class and show her peers and teacher, but honestly, a lot of it is drivel.
I put her off by saying that some of it is very good (which is true) but other bits could use some more work. She's not going to let it drop, though: she wants to know which bits need work, and why.
The truth is that most of it would benefit from rewriting, but I don't feel I can tell her that, nor would I want to squash her enthusiasm. She's very easily deflated and prone to taking even gentle criticism very harshly. But it's terribly frustrating: we know she can write so well for her age, but she has no concept of self-criticism, so often doesn't.
While I've given a specific example here, this is a topic I've started to struggle with as my kids have grown up. With little ones we've offered unreserved praise for all their efforts. But at what age is it reasonable to expect children to start to take critical comments constructively, and to start being a little self-critical about what they produce? How can parents, generally, encourage this process, especially with kids who don't tend to take it well?