Email from art teacher

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by flutterby, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Addressed to both PCA and me.

    My response:

  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think you said what needed to be said, but how will teacher interpret it? Teacher is asking you how she should handle the situation. I think she needs some suggestions from you on what she should do, maybe teacher and you need to talk to together come up with a strategy for both of you (even if tat strategy has to be - let her discover natural consequences).

    However, looking ONLY at those letters and not at all your other posts on this and related issues - I would be asking you why you can't take her aside, as she looks to you, and YOU give her some support in working on her set tasks. Often for a kid with serious anxiety issues coupled with extreme emotional immaturity, you get the "I can't get started" problems. When you're looking at a pristine sheet of paper and know that you're about to deface it with your first pencil mark, it's a lot easier to sit back and admire the pure whiteness and feel helpless, than to have to make choices.

    From what has been written in this thread only, it sounds like you have to be the person to fix this and not teacher. You, because daughter looks to you. Not daughter, because she's overwhelmed. She knows she will fail, she doesn't want to fail, but the inertia is so extreme that the impending doom doesn't seem to be able to be avoided. Not the teacher, because for the teacher to intervene looks like leniency. Sorry - if anything is to be done, it has to be you. But you don't DO the work for her, you support her to get it done. This is often how I have to work with difficult child 3, when working in an area he finds especially confronting. It's a matter of taking baby steps - for whatever reason, your expectations are taking giant steps here. And your expectations are not just "she has to get her assignments done" but "she has to overcome this crippling inertia all by herself" and she clearly can't.
    Your support need not be onerous or seen as devaluing the threat of failure in any way. A near miss, saved by difficult child's own work, is still a valuable lesson learned. Even more valuable, if she succeeds even with your support. But if this doesn't work, at least you will know you did your utmost to help her, and she will know it too.

    So, ways for YOU to handle this: get a sheet of paper, maybe have a stack of sheets of paper (I use either a special art pad of tear-off sheets or paper from the computer printer) and you have your sheet of paper too. Ask her for her ideas, brainstorm them. Do a mind map with her of her chosen topic. If she has to draw a picture, maybe go through your photos on the printer and ask her to choose the ones she feels she'd like to work on. Meanwhile you choose your own, and you do your own (very rough) version of te assignment. Do NOT make yours much good, show her that a rough sketch is OK for a start. Because I suspect that once she gets started (especially if she can criticise what you have done - let her) then she will be able to fine-tune her own ideas, the choices in her head will have been able to sort themselves out.

    The problem comes with choosing which of your ideas or thoughts should take precedence. We had the same problem with difficult child 1. In fact, I suspect it's why, as far as his faith has gone, he has become extremely fundamentalist, because HE doesn't have to choose what to believe, someone else has spelt it out for him. After all those years of me trying to teach him how to think for himself...

    So you find out what the assignments are, and help her complete something to hand in. It needn't be great, as long as she has made an attempt.

    The need to get it perfect can also be crippling. I had a cousin (now dead) who was a brilliant composer. He did marvellously when he was younger but as he got older he became crippled by doubt and the need for perfection. He would get a commission and sit down to write it, then find he was not satisfied with the result. He began to miss deadlines and lose work. Even work he had completed and submitted, his habit was often to ask for the work back so he could polish it. People who handed the work back, never got it from him again because he could never find that last bit of polish, he found the better it was (in his mind) even though not perfect, the harder it was to make any changes for fear of doing more harm than good.

    I've been through this with myself, with difficult child 1 and difficult child 3. easy child also, to a certain extent. I've learned how to deal with it in myself. difficult child 3 is still learning the Power of the Draft. Computers make it easier with writing tasks to keep the old while still developing the new.

    difficult child 3 is especially resistant to producing physical evidence of artwork. He also (like your daughter) prefers photography. Thankfully for us, difficult child 3's school bypassed the usual artwork track and got him into photography quick smart.

    I have a massive collection of art materials left over from difficult child 3's compulsory foray into producing artwork. Left to himself, he couldn't produce anything. But with me working on my own sheet of paper beside him (we worked on the floor because that is where difficult child 3 prefers to work) he was also able to do something too. I could suggest things he could add, ways to add them, we talked about the value of adding this vs the value of NOT adding this - it all helped him with his choices, it was like I had piggybacked my brain to his, to help him make his choices.

    It is the choice that is difficult. Not the actual work. it is much harder work to avoid doing it, than to actually do it, so this is NOT laziness.

    You don't have to do this. I didn't have to do it. But it did get us out of an impasse and for every hurdle she makes it over, even if you're pushing her form behind, she will get a sense of achievement. And each time she gets that sense of achievement, it helps reduce the height of the next hurdle.

    This is one of the problems you have to deal with, when your child is emotionally immature.

    But certainly, talk this through in detail with the teacher, who sounds like she is feeling as helpless as you have felt.

  3. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Marg, I understand what you're saying and it's what I've done for 15 years. She shuts down with me. PCA has been the only one who has been able to successfully do these things.

    I will try your suggestions, although I have to add that I don't have to "try" to make my work worse than hers. I can't draw at all. LOL difficult child can.

    The other issues is that therapist really thinks that because difficult child is sooooo dependent on me for *everything* that I need to step back. therapist thinks difficult child needs to hear things from other people, especially because difficult child thinks if therapist would fix all of us (me, my mom, easy child and DF) that her problems would be gone.
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    That statement of difficult child's - has anyone sat down with her and said, "On the one hand, you have your mother, your grandmother, your sister and her fiance who all need "fixing" - but how can so many people so close to you ALL have problems? Or the other possibility is, it's not them but it's you. Look elsewhere in your life where things are not perfect. Again, can you blame your mother, your grandmother etc for all this? No? Hmm... maybe you need to consider that perhaps you could improve things with a few changes yourself. Because if you begin to make the changes, you be the hero, you might find this will begin to change those people around you too, just by you setting the example."

    [of course, we know that the changes in those around her will be entirely due to any self-improvement difficult child makes].

    It ain't easy.

  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Is it possible for her to take an incomplete at this point? I don't think anyone saying or doing anything will help difficult child at this point if she's shut down. She needs to unravel that before she can begin to pull herself out of this pit. Is an art class really necessary at this point? Is it worth the additional pressure? I hate to see her walk away from something she's good at but I'm afraid she's going to dig herself in deeper with any external pressure to comply.
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    All. the. time. therapist has been working on bringing reality to difficult child for a year. I have been working on it for 8.

    TM - To be honest, I don't care about this quarter at all. She has missed so much school and has been unstable for all except for a little over a week. We are trying to figure out an Residential Treatment Center (RTC) for her, but it's not easy.

    The school won't let her take an incomplete. She would have to take a fail.
  7. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    Oh. And difficult child wishes we were all dead.
  8. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    We as in the family or we as in you and your imaginary friends? Just had to ask... :winks:
  9. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    haha. We as in me, my mom, easy child and DF. Not so sure about the DF part, but the rest of us and me in particular. She has written it several times in her journals that she takes to therapist.
  10. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Just sending support.