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Is it unusual for a two-year-old to be very frustrated/discouraged by their inability to do something (like write)?

My daughter (2.5) feels a level of discouragement that I think is abnormal. For instance, I was writing something and she wanted to write too, so I gave her the pen and paper. After a moment, she fell to the ground and whimpered, "I can't draw the letters." I explained in what was probably a desperately sad voice that nobody can at her age and that it's something that takes a long time to learn, but she will be able to write letters. Today, at the skating rink, skating for the first time ever, she hunched over and said "I'm not good at this!" I have read Nurture Shock where the authors talk about bright kids giving up on things that they don't take to quickly because they have always been praised for bring smart. She's only two and she gets told that all the time, especially for her language, but other abilities as well. I can't control my own praise, it just pops out of me because I am genuinely surprised and awed by her logic or connections or her identifying words in a book. But, I especially can't control everyone else's comments. Everyone remarks on her speech and knowledge everywhere we go. Practically everyday. But this new discouragement has me worried. I don't feel like it is normal for a two-year-old to be so discouraged that they can't do something right away. I feel like I have crushed her spirit and ruined what will be her capacity for ambition and confidence. Ugh. Perspective? Experience? Help!

 
Bellarose0212

Asked by Bellarose0212 at 11:40 PM on Mar. 4, 2011 in General Parenting

Level 19 (7,940 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (17)
  • My son was/is the exact same way. It's heartbreaking.
    I encourage him and support him and tell him it's ok and that it's not going to be perfect right away yet he's so hard on himself. :(

    I got some advice from a teacher friend of mine to help him out. I never thought about the fact that writing requires certain muscles in the fingers to be developed and that kids don't have them built up yet so it makes it harder for them to manipulate a pen or crayon or whatever.
    Pinching clothes pins help work out these muscles which will make holding the pen easier.

    She also suggested explaining the letters as "circles and sticks" like an H is 3 sticks. A B is a stick with 2 circles.
    I tried this with my son and it really works.

    Once she starts to feel more confident then she will start trying more in other areas as well. My son got so excited about being able to write letters that he tried doing other things as well.
    Laila-May

    Answer by Laila-May at 11:46 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • Awwww....you've just got a smarty pants on your hands. I think she understands the concepts of things well but putting the motor skills together may take age appropriate time. That's just not something you can speed up. I don't have advice on this but giving her age appropriate tasks/activities make sense. Maybe talk to the ped about it to get some perspective. Try to keep encouraging her with the things she will be capable of. You're right, you can't control what others say and that is a tough spot to be in. Love and encourage her and get a little advice from a pro. Maybe she's the next Einstein or Mozart????!!!!!
    jeanclaudia

    Answer by jeanclaudia at 11:46 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • It sounds normal to me. Keep encouraging her to try, try again. If she REALLY gets discouraged do it WITH her. Like the writing, if she tries really hard and just CAN'T get it put your hand over hers and show her how. Also, praise the heck out of her efforts. It doesn't matter whether she succeeds or not, just that she tries her very hardest.
    Rosehawk

    Answer by Rosehawk at 11:46 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • Just keep encouraging her and praising her and supporting her.
    My son still has his days where it's "I can't do it." and "I'm not good at this." but he's getting better.

    Every time he figures something out and succeeds he gets a little bit more confident.

    As sad as it is, it's nice to know my son isn't the only kid out there who's like this.
    Laila-May

    Answer by Laila-May at 11:50 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • There is NOTHING wrong with encouraging and praising your children. Children need that. Her frustrations are not normal. Let her see you try and fail. You can also sit down with her and talk about how she has to be able to draw lines and shapes before she can draw letters.
    tyfry7496

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 11:47 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • Hmmmm. I would say just keep encuraging her like you are. She may have heard someone close say they couldn't do something and is mimicing the behavior. Or when she does write tell her she is doing a great job. (if she can even somewhat mimic a letter form at this age she is more academically inclined than her peers) I know my kids feel better when I say "it took mommy a long time to learn that too." Though since she is so young those thoughts really shouldnt (IMO) cross her mind. I would suggest therapy if it continues or speak to her doctor about it. Don't hinder on it though-I believe it will make it worse.
    ABusyBee

    Answer by ABusyBee at 11:51 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • What???
    "Her frustrations are not normal."

    Yes they are. Who out there doesn't get upset or frustrated when they can't do something that they want to do? Everyone feels this way. Her being so young makes it less common because she is clearly advanced in her development emotionally, but it is 100% normal for her to feel frustration.
    Laila-May

    Answer by Laila-May at 11:52 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • Thanks everyone! I really appreciate the advice. She's ahead of the curve in some areas but I am afraid that has given her the idea that if she doesn't get something right away she is simply bad at it. I also think she expects be able to do everything we can do.

    Thanks, jeanclaudia! That's the thing, I'm not trying to speed her up. I just want her to be happy where she is at. Like drawing whatever and telling me she has written something instead of being so sad because she can't make letters the way I do.

    Thanks, Rosehawk. I hope it's normal. Maybe it's part of the normal autonomy struggle. I just hope we haven't given her the message that she is supposed to be naturally good at everything.

    Thank you, Laila-May, it IS heartbreaking. I am actually in school to be a teacher. Right now I am at the public school interning. But, when I observed at the Montissori school they did something similar to clothes-pins. ...
    Bellarose0212

    Comment by Bellarose0212 (original poster) at 11:53 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • They had them use tweezers to move cotton balls into and out of little boxes (they were three and four-year-olds).
    Bellarose0212

    Comment by Bellarose0212 (original poster) at 11:54 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

  • tryfry- the passage in the book was about how kids who are told how amazing and brilliant they are all the time won't know what to do when they face something that they aren't amazing and brilliant at. That instead of praising abilities we should praise efforts. "I like how you kept trying and trying until you got the door open." Which I have tried to do since I read that a few months ago. The chapter detailed an exceptionally smart fifth grader who just would not try at the things that he was not automatically good at, because he felt that he would never be good at them. I was just wondering if I have already sent her that message at two-years-old. :(
    Bellarose0212

    Comment by Bellarose0212 (original poster) at 11:58 PM on Mar. 4, 2011

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