In my family, going on for three generations, there's a tendency for smart kids to utterly melt down when they face failure. Me, my son, my granddaughter. I dealt with it in a fairly unhealthy way--basically, quit trying and quit caring. Cost me a good twenty years of learning how to learn. When I recognized the same behavior in my son, I did a couple things. First, took him out of competitive sports. Next, pointed out the melting down behavior and focused on intervention and pushing him in safe situations to deal with the frustration. As a result of my efforts, he did much better and wasn't cut out of 20 years of learning. His daughter has the same meltdown when she can't be excellent and he's working with her.

It's a common smart kid trait. When you are really good at everything you set out to do, it creates anxiety about the things you aren't good at. Every time a parent of a smart kid asks me what to do to challenge and develop their abilities, I say: give them something they aren't good at, and it doesn't have to be academics.

So my family's generational glitch has been very useful in helping me identify kids who might not meltdown (one way or another you grow out of it by high school) but have the same preference for constant validation of success.

Now, you're dealing with younger kids, so you have to be more careful than me. But when faced with kids doing this:

"But she skipped problems that she didn’t initially understand. When I came over to try to help her, she would quickly tell me she understood to end the conversation. She expressed boredom when given extra, personal challenges."

I get pretty aggressive on it. What kids like that need is your direct information that they've failed.

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Aug 7, 2023Liked by Michael Pershan

Thank you. This is really good. Two ideas are standing out to me:

1. A person who is faster than their peers may like the being fast more than the tasks themselves per so. They may not want to learn the next bit because they won't be fast at it.

2. More generally, a person can be bored, not because there is nothing more to do, but because the more that there is to do is not the stuff they want to do.

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Man, I can't agree fast enough.

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