Saturday, June 1, 2013

Do You Ever Have Trouble?

My oldest has been struggling with getting all the "teens" in order when he counts.  He does great until he gets to fourteen then everything goes haywire.  "Fourteen, sixteen, nineteen, TWENTY!" he will shout.  If I attempt to correct him, he gets agitated.  Very agitated.  "Nooooo!!  Mommy!  Just let me count my way!" he will shout.  I did, for awhile, but I wasn't doing him any favors.  It was time to figure out how to get the fun back into counting.

He can read numbers so we started with a calendar.  On the first of the month I asked him, "How many days until you get to go to camp at the aquarium?" I moved my finger from block to block as we said the numbers together.  While he was still agitated, he seemed to feel more comfortable when he could rely on the printed numbers when things got muddled.

Next I tried a dice game.  We would roll the dice, count the dots, then pick up that number of pennies and drop them in a jar.  After five rolls of the dice, we would count his "winnings" from the jar.  He loved this and was all about the excitement of finding out how much change he had collected.

I really thought I had handled it in a way that kept it fun and didn't point out any problem.  But he felt a bit differently.  "Mommy," he asked as I tucked him in one night, "did you ever have trouble doing something like I have trouble counting?"  My heart melted a little.  I fervently searched my memory banks and my imagination for something that might help him know that everyone has trouble learning things sometimes.  I remembered, suddenly, my struggle in third grade to tell time.  "Yes, I do remember something," I shared with him.  "When I was eight, I couldn't figure out how to tell time.  Papa bought me a watch and would make me tell him what time it was all the time.  I would get so mad because I was scared I would say the wrong thing.  But all that practice helped and now I'm really good at telling time."  I watched his face and waited for some change that would say that my words helped soothe him.  I finally saw a half smile as he sank back into the pillows.  "Thanks, Mommy.  Goodnight!" he said.

Sometimes, even when we try our very best to "fix" whatever we see our kids struggling with, they just need to know it's okay to mess up.  They need to know it's okay that some things are just hard to learn.  And they need to know you have felt that way, too.  My son reminded me to admit my weaknesses to him and share my struggles with him.  Rather than giving him license to quit, it just might give him to push he needs to know it is possible to overcome.

How do you help your children when they are struggling with learning something new?  Do you have some good examples about how you overcame the obstacles in your life? 


  1. My youngest skips number like that. His older brother did too, but outgrew it. A lot of things just take time for them to understand the concept :)

    1. So true. They all figure out things in their own time. It's tempting to rush them but it seems to just make them self conscious instead of confident. Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one!


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