Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is Trying Something New That Bad?

For nearly five years now, Ellie has baffled me when it comes to learning new skills.  She simply hates to try.  When she learned to sit up on her own, she was incredibly indignant that I had the audacity to move out from behind her and snap a picture of the momentous occasion.   As soon as the camera snapped, she looked up, looked behind her, looked back and me, turned bright red, slammed herself on the ground and proceeded to have a kicking and screaming tantrum.  Once she realized that she could move around by crawling, she threw herself on the floor and and acted like she was devastated.

I'd like to tell you that she's come a long way and will try things and smile when she accomplishes a new skill.  I'm not going to lie to you.  While the tantrums have pretty much died out, she still doesn't want to do new things.  Learning to write was a painful process, and it was at that time that I realized that I was dealing with a perfectionist.  How her mother, an irritating perfectionist, never noticed that she was one, too, I'll never know.  It took insane amounts of patience to encourage her to write, but we made it to the other side.

Ellie is meticulous in many of the things she does.  She can make the biggest mess you've ever seen, but she can also be very neat when it comes to arranging things just. so.  I've been of the opinion for over a year now that she has the fine motor skills necessary to tie a shoe.  Ellie, not wanting to be too autonomous has held firm that she can't do it and doesn't want to learn.  Enter battle of the wills.  (Have I mentioned that mine is iron clad and teflon coated?)

Over the course of the past several months, I have slowly tried to trick (because trickery is the only way in which I have been able to convince this child to learn new skills) my expert knot tying child into learning to make a bow.  She had the first few steps down but made it a point to sabotage the tying when it came to bringing the lace around the loop.  A few days ago I mentioned to my husband that perhaps my left handedness is to blame and I asked him to take a shot at teaching her.   He agreed to give it a try, but I got impatient waiting for that attempt.  You see, I wanted her to learn to tie shoes before she turns eighteen.  I decided to try to talk Ellie through the process again this morning.  Amazingly, she got it.  I congratulated her and offered a high five.  She looked at her perfectly tied shoe and melted into tears.

I don't know why she simply can't be happy for herself when she learns something new.  I remember Madeline was super excited when she learned to tie a shoe.  She went around the house and tied every thing she could.  She couldn't wait to tell her teacher so she could be a member of the shoe tying club.  Ellie claimed she was tired when I asked her to tie another shoe.  I don't buy tired at 8:30AM.  On the way to school I asked if she was going to show her teacher that she can tie a shoe.  She's not interested.

I guess she's just one of those kids who really doesn't like change.  I was hoping to have a video of my new shoe tying kid to share here, but I'm pretty sure none of you would want to watch the video of Ellie crying her way through a successful shoe tie.

I'm sorry she's not proud of her latest accomplishment, but I'm proud of her.  And let me just add that she ties a mean bow.  Her big sister could probably take a few pointers from her.

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