View Full Version : Spelling Power and the perfectionist child

Michelle Pfeifer
09-15-2009, 04:06 PM
I guess that could be anything and the perfectionist child, but this week it's spelling.

How do you handle a student who doesn't like getting words wrong, even when there is no possible way he could have known the correct spelling before I give him the list?

DS actually breezed through four groups without missing a word, so he figured spelling wasn't that big of deal. This week we hit a list where he missed five consecutive words and he had a fit: hitting himself, crying that he was stupid, etc. I tried to explain to him that he wasn't going to get every word right, that was the point of the program to highlight trouble areas, that sometimes we need to get things wrong in order to learn. He wouldn't listen.

What more is there to say? He becomes completely uncteachable when he gets like this.


Di in NJ
09-15-2009, 04:41 PM
My ds5 gets like this. And I vaguely remember my parents having the same problem with me. I've been coping with Jimmy by (over & over & over) explaining that it is OK to get things wrong. I make sure to tell him that mistakes can sometimes be how we learn best. I'm saving some "mistakes as success" stories for when he's older - like how plexiglass (the scientist decided not to clean up until morning) & aspartame (the scientist accidentally licked his finger) were discovered. Obviously, I need to make sure the lesson learned won't be don't clean up or lick unknown substances first. LOL!

My parents successfully got me over my mental blocks by drilling. My big issue was 10 minute timed math tests. My dad wrote a computer program that spat out random tests for me to practice. The goal was for me to finish the test instead of getting stuck at, say, question 2. They heaped praise on me once I was able to finish the tests, even if I didn't get all of the questions right.

My ds5 still naps, so I also remind him that brains process information while we sleep. He had trouble remembering how to count to 3 in German & was getting upset. I sent him to his nap with that reminder, and he woke up remembering how to count to 10 in German. Part of it was the sleep, but I think it was mostly his confidence that something changed to help him remember.


Cheryl in SoCal
09-15-2009, 04:43 PM
I'd probably give him a list of the words in advance. Spelling Power heresy but you've got to remain sane;)

09-20-2009, 05:11 PM
I had tears over here too with every word they got wrong!!! As if they are never going to have one they have to work on!!!

Loved the "all the words were there" idea of Spelling Power - BUT...we switched to Sequential Spelling. It is painless. No tears. Takes a little time...and they are learning how to spell!!!!

09-20-2009, 09:32 PM
Is he upset at the five in a row wrong part? Maybe you could ask him if it's the number of words wrong that bothers him and stop at three wrong? I'd get his input on it and see what it is that's upsetting him so much.

Also, on the sentence writing on the review, do you allow him to use as many words as possible in a sentence that makes sense? This was a fun challenge for my ds (and now my dd). That way he might only have to write one or two sentences, not five.

My ds loves breezing through the easy stuff, too, and then gets upset when it gets hard. He basically would always take the easy way out if he could. It's a life lesson he's got to learn, that things will not always come easily to him, and he has to be up for that. (My dd, OTOH, complains when things are too easy and asks for more of a challenge! My ds would never, ever do that.)

09-21-2009, 07:26 AM
All four of my children were like this so we adapted it until they were mature enough to handle getting some wrong without taking it personal. I select 10 words from the list and on day 1 they enter them into their dictionary, day 2 they do the 10 step study, day 3 they write sentences, day 4 we pre-test and if they get 100%, they're done. If not, they do the 10 step study again and retest on day 5. I'm sure I got this idea from the Spelling Power book, but couldn't put my hands on the page #. Hope it helps!

Michelle Pfeifer
09-21-2009, 08:44 AM
Is he upset at the five in a row wrong part?

No, he gets upset at missing any. We go through this with math also. He could get 24 out of 25 math problems correct, but he will focus on the one he missed.

I hadn't specifically told him he could use as many words as he wanted in a sentence, but then so far he hasn't missed more than 2 words in a list. That one day was the first time he hit 5.

So how do you help them learn these life lessons? Sticking it out always turns into a huge source of frustration. He has such a short fuse. It's not even a matter "oh I missed the first one. Rats I missed the second one. Oh I am so stupid because I have missed three." He goes nuclear at one.


09-21-2009, 04:24 PM

I don't know ... neither of mine have reacted that way. Ds would get mad about missing 5, but only because he didn't want to do the work on the review page for 5 words. I hope some of the other responses are helpful -- I guess I don't have the same problem you do. When my ds gets something wrong, he gets mad, but not in a perfectionist way, more in a lazy, "I don't want to spend the time to re-do this" kind of way.

debbie in ak
09-21-2009, 06:20 PM
Mine have reacted this way to Spelling Power, but it actually has been a positive thing...it is a life lesson that it is ok to make mistakes...that we can't be perfect....and that we learn best from mistakes. My 12 y/o doesn't get upset anymore...my 8 year old is still working through that process.:)

Jen M
09-21-2009, 06:51 PM
We had the same issue here. So, I turned it into a full on game. We got up out of our seats to spell as big as we could in the air, wrote silly sentences on the white board using the word (instead of her writing it in her SP booklet), etc. Then when she could spell it correctly, she got a prize (usually a small candy). She then did not connect misspelling with being 'wrong' all the time, but with a game that was fun! We later learned dd is a natural speller and no longer use a spelling curriculum.

However, ds did not do well with the SP style. Ds is now using Sequential Spelling with a more gentle rhythmic approach and he is loving it. It better fits his learning style.