By Allison Gardenswartz, Consulting Educator
How do I get my third-grader to want to do more than just "average" work? Whenever I ask him to do his best, his consistent response is, "I don't care if I am the best or at the top. I just want to be in the middle."
He always compares himself to the slowest students in the class saying: "Well, I write better than ___." Is this just a laziness problem?
I think it is important to emphasize with children of all ages that their goals (and yours for them) should be to do their personal best. Try to eliminate the comparison of your son to the other students in the class. Ask him if he thinks that he did his very best on a test, or if this particular work is an example of his best product. Encourage him to make his weekly/monthly goals to improve, little by little, on his past performance. He can increase the speed of his math facts or make his written work neater. Choose a tangible and measurable goal that will enable him to improve each week.
Then be sure to reward the positive with lots of verbal praise. Tell him how proud you are of his achievements. Once he feels the intrinsic rewards of success, he's more likely to be motivated to want to do better and to challenge himself. Again, I think the important concept here is not that he should try to be "the best," but that he should try to do "his best."
Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.
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