bridarkat asks:

My 6 year old daughter tries to please everyone.

My 6 year old daughter is very shy and introverted around others when not a home. I think alot of this comes from the fact that she has Receptive Learning and Auditory Processing problems. She's made great strides in both areas and (with therapy at home and with her speech therapist) and is on tract (average) in her classroom. The problem is that she tries to please everyone. It takes her extra time to finish any assignment because she needs to ask the teacher or assistant if she is doing it correctly every step of the way. She's terrified that she could be doing something wrong. I don't know where this comes from. We are very supportive at home. She attends a great private school where they are just as supportive. Her teacher tries to reassure her and so do I it but it doesn't seem to help.

What can I do to help?!
In Topics: Self esteem and identity
> 60 days ago



Mar 17, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

I'm not a learning specialist but it sounds like your daughter is getting excellent support in that area. It also sounds like your little girl is a hard worker who knows how to focus, complete tasks and deliver the "goods." She has high standards for herself. All of these traits will serve her very well in her adult life.

We all want to please others, especially those who approval is important to us (parents, teachers, coaches, employers) So this isn't necessarily a "problem."  Is she going overboard with her efforts to please? I couldn't say but I do believe that if she's truly "terrified" of making a mistake, that may be coming from a misunderstanding on her part that she is only lovable if she is "perfect" in everything she does. Not true, of course! But if that's how she feels she more evidence-based learning to will help her let go of this myth.  Otherwise, perfectionism can lead to performance/test anxiety and generally cause her unhappiness as she progresses through the grades and the academic and social challenges become more complex.

I suggest you take a multi-prong approach here. Talk with her speech therapists and teachers and discuss ways that they might help your daughter relax and be more accepting of herself as a human being who will, invariably, make mistakes. Perhaps having the therapist model making a mistake herself and then laughing at herself. Talking with your daughter about how everyone makes mistakes and it's really not such a big deal could be very helpful as an ongoing theme during their time together. The therapist might then gently segue into a friendly conversation with your daughter about how she feels when she makes a mistake. You could easily do the same thing at home.

At home look for teachable moments, in stories, films, TV shows when some makes a mistake. Often there is great learning that comes from mistakes. You know that, but your daughter doesn't know it yet. Help her understand that she is loved and respected at home and at school and that doesn't change whether she gets something incorrect on the homework or not. And one more thing, make sure that all the adults in her life are on the same page here. We all make mistakes and it's OK.

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