View Full Version : Kids not showing any effort/playing dumb in hopes of getting out of something

11-16-2011, 11:50 AM
I am having this problem with my 5.5 yo DD. She seems to do when it when I introduce new materials that she is perfectly capable of, but they are a little bit of a challenge. For example, we've been working on numbers. She has had 1-100 mastered for a long time. I introduced a new activity that would help her work on numbers into the thousands and she suddenly forgets her numbers 1-100 telling me that a 3 is a 2 and mixing up numbers like 19 and 91. I appreciate that is an easy thing to mix up, but it is not even remotely an issue at other times. Currently she is sitting at her work trying to spell "jar". I knew that would be a trickier word out of the ones I gave her to spell. We talked about what words rhyme with jar as she knows how to spell car and she understands that when words rhyme they are usually spelled the same. She claims the only way to spell it is "jzr". She's started the fake tears and just staring to see if I'll just give her the answer. I am happy to help her reach the answer, but not to just give her the answer, especially when she's not even trying. I've been working with her and having her sound things out and go through why it won't work, but she won't even try other than to yell out completely ridiculous things. At this point I think she's tried every letter other than "a" even after I suggested going through the entire alphabet--she skipped "a".

How do you deal with situations like this? Do you have them put their materials away, tell them the answer, make them work through it? She is really excited for the next activity today and I don't want to send the message that if you play dumb and refuse to try and work through something that you'll get out of it. You know? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. TIA.

11-16-2011, 04:16 PM
Here's the thing . .. just because we believe a child is ready for an activity, doesnt really mean they are. They grow in leaps and bounds, not steadily, and sometimes developmentally, they just arent ready. But you have to know your kid - some kids will 'fake' to get out of something, but i dont think most will. I think they are more likely to 'fake' when they are actually really uncomfortable with the work. So here's my philosphy - what really gets you further towards your goal . . . pushing them to do work when it really upsets them and possibly makes them dislike that subject more or even school in general, or put it aside until it actually comes more easily to them? My 8 yo was simply not ready for much organized academics until THIS YEAR. He is ONLY THIS YEAR able to spell most 3 letter words. The other thing is - some days just go downhill. again, i personally feel that most of the time, its better to cut your losses on a bad day than to end up in a screaming/crying situation. You will always have more time to teach her spelling and math, but the joy of learning and your positive relationship with your child are fragile and harder to make up.

5 is really young. If she was 10, i'd say its time to crack the whip. but not at 5

11-16-2011, 04:19 PM
I do run into that from time to time. I look at it differently, though.

For instance, yesterday dd was almost in tears over borrowing. So we did ALL of her problems but one together. She knew how to do it, but she wasn't ready to fly solo yet, and still wasn't comfortable with that, so I promised I would sit with her, and if she felt confused AT ALL she just needed to ask. That gave her enough confidence. For the next assignment, I just do 3 or 4 together, then she goes solo. Then 1 the next day, etc.

The getting-confused-on-stuff-they-know happens here as well whenever they are working REALLY hard on a new concept. For us (and I'm no expert), I find once the new skills are mastered, the confusion stops.

Not criticizing, but I also think my dd in 2nd wouldn't be up to the tasks you are asking from your little one.

Accidental Homeschooler
11-16-2011, 04:45 PM
My dd is six and we are leaving spelling until her reading is more advanced, probably another year. My dd can read three letter words but spelling them is much harder for her, even when she wants to do so for a project she has chosen and is working on (she likes to write little books and notes to me). Avid readers can still struggle with spelling.

11-16-2011, 04:54 PM
My dd used to do something similar, but it wasn't that the activity was too challenging, it's that it was too easy. She KNEW the correct answer, but she would deliberately say every single wrong answer, trying to get a rise out of me or something. It's like I was insulting her intelligence. She still hates activities where I'm "quizzing" her, as if I know all the answers, and she has to tell them to me.

If I was getting to the point where it felt like we were butting heads over it, we would just choose a different activity. (emphasis on "we" - I would make some suggestions, and she would choose). There are many different ways to learn how to spell, and many different things to learn if spelling is a sticking point.

11-16-2011, 05:34 PM
What Cara said.

I think, unless they've really learned it, that 5 yos don't manipulate people. Her confusion is probably genuine. Remember too that at that age, being tired, hungry, etc. can be a whole lot more affecting than for older kids. Switching 19 and 91 is so normal at that age. Your attitude seems to suggest she's purposefully manipulating you, when I really don't think that's the case. My 7 yos occasionally even do that sort of thing then catch themselves. Keep lessons short. Move on quickly. If it stops working, put it away. It's just kindergarten. :)

11-16-2011, 05:46 PM

What Farrar and Cara said. Geesh, I'm late to every thread....

11-16-2011, 05:59 PM

What Farrar said. Geesh, I'm late to every thread....

I'm even later. I'm going to just start saying "What Bacon said-which is what Farrar said"

11-16-2011, 09:49 PM

What Farrar and Cara said. Geesh, I'm late to every thread....

I'm even later. I'm going to just start saying "What Bacon said-which is what Farrar said"


but i am going to say, what bacon said, and what Avalon said.

And i am going to up the anty and say that i have a manipulative just turned 6 yo. I blame it on cancer, but really she was like this beforehand. So my second culprit is being a scorpio.

But really for me the best thing that has begun working is CHOICES CHOICES CHOICES. Do you want to do phonics or handwriting? Do you want to work for 10 or 15 minutes? THEN I STOP.... I think someone here suggested it.

But it does work. And it gives them a chance to "be in charge" even though you're only giving choices that you can deal with. Some readiness may be an issue but for girls.... hello, i say, it is about give me alittle control.

11-16-2011, 09:58 PM
at 5.5, I think I'd let it go, maybe shorten lessons for a bit, etc, as others have said. maybe instead of straight pen-to-paper spelling, you can make match cards - some with beginning letters, and others with ending sounds - so you could have a few diff consonants, including "J", as well as endings like "at, ar, an"...then she can spell words like that, rather than just going right to paper. I find writing exercises difficult for my 6yr old...she's much more receptive to spelling with cards or tiles, etc.

Older though, I'm not sure...I have the same problem from my 8yr old dd...she can get herself SO worked up over something, screaming and crying that she can't do it, when I know very well that she can. After a good scream and cry, then quiet time reading in bed or something, she generally gets it done super fast and gets a big high-five and "you DID know how!" and smiles from me. I hate fighting with her and forcing her to just DO IT, but she IS a manipulative child, and HAS been since she was pretty young (and I really don't think I taught her that!), and I know that if I give in to the crying that it will just be her way out of everything (which is what she does with her 6yr old sister...big sister always gets her way by turning on the tears)

11-17-2011, 12:18 PM
I agree that 5.5 is very young and she just may not be ready or need a break. That said, my son does occasionally get manipulative and "forget" how to do very basic things. Like just now he was telling me he couldn't "remember" how to hold a pencil correctly. Seriously, he spent a ton of time yesterday making Thanksgiving decorations and he independently decided to write various things on them. He colors, he draws, he writes but when it's time to do his HWT, he "forgets" how to hold the pencil. When I told him we'd have to spend some time practicing writing tonight instead of playing Wii with Daddy, he all of a sudden, miraculously "remembered". Yeah, I'm feeling a little sarcastic and getting it out here instead of taking it out on him.

Unless he is very very obviously playing games, if he seems to have trouble or is not remember something, we take a break or start from the beginning and I explain it again.

I think our problem lately is there's been too much disruption with power outages, staying with family and trying to get our home back in order. We're off what little routine we normally have so he's resistant to getting back into things.

11-17-2011, 02:00 PM
My ds6 does this too. Once he gets it in his head he doesn't want to, or he can't, it's a crying screaming fest. FIrst I'll try calmly telling him he can, and he will. THen we take three deep breaths together, have a huge wiggle (shake it off), and try again. If he's still resisting, stop for the, telling him we're picking it back up RIGHT THERE tomorrow.

I know it seems like "he's winning", but different day, different mood.

THat said, my son loved to read. But written exercises were hard... even copying. Using that slightly different part of his brain made even simplest words like jar and car a foriegn language. Nad he knew he was supose to know... it was right on the tip of his tongue. A lot of times that would trigger it... he would frustrate himself because he thought he was screwing up. Once I figured that out, I used to give him the paper with a "disclaimer". "You mihgt recognize some of these, but we're doing something sifferent today. It might seem hard at first, but once we get going, it'll be easy-peasy." It took a bit, but it helped him.

As an aside, I hate talking like that. Before I had kids, I swore I'd be one of those moms who would always talk to her kids like mini-adults, and would never say things like easy-peasy. But then after I had a toddler, I caught myself lamenting the loss of the Yellow Wiggle, jumping up and down with Sid the Scince Kid, and generally sounding like every pre-school teacher on PBS LOL