You have known it from day one that your child is smart. He/she learned to read faster, learned to speak faster, and learned to walk faster. Your child has great imagination, is a story teller, and asks intelligent questions. He/she loves reading and you have loaded a rack full of books for your child to read.
You feel great and rather proud to have a child that smart. You can see a great future ahead until you present your child with a writing task. You expect your child to be good, if not great, in writing given the love he/she has for reading books.
You are now confused and start looking around for better books that you can throw at your child. After all, everyone you speak to suggest that better writing is the result of frequent reading. In most cases, it helps; reading improves imagination and could tickle the creative neurons in your child’s brain but your child could be suffering from other issues causing them to refuse to write.
There are many reasons for why a child may not enjoy writing but we are going to talk about only two of them
Hand Strength and how to fix it
If a child does not do much writing then the finger muscles do not develop making writing a struggling task. Fortunately, finger muscles like any other muscles in the human body can be trained and with regular writing can make it less straining.
Any exercises that involve using a pencil and paper can help develop the physical strength required for writing.
Writing Anxiety and how to overcome it
Overcoming writing related anxieties require a very different approach than fixing muscle strength issues. You must first understand what writing anxiety is and what might be going on in the mind of a child when confronted by a writing task.
The last thing you want to do is to browbeat your child into writing. That will only add to the frustration and result into your child disliking it even further. Even worse, if it turns into a phobia. The writing anxiety like many other anxieties has its root into fear and contempt.
Fortunately, this anxiety lives in the mind and can be overcome but first, we need to understand the fears related with writing anxiety so we can craft an informed plan of action.
Fear of getting judged as inferior or dumb – Anecdotally, this is the biggest fear that plagues most writers and results into children disliking writing. No one wants to get judged and stamped as dumb or inferior.
Fear of contempt – Failing to write or write properly could trigger remarks from parents or teachers that could be interpreted as contempt even when the intention was not the same.
Fear of working hard – Writing is not easy, it requires lot of hard work in learning about the subject or topic before you could write anything about that subject. My nephew was asked to write 2 stories about his visit to London during his holiday. This requires him visiting the various places in London, pay attention to the details, collect postcards and useful information etc.
Fear of comparison – The fear that ones writing would be compared with another child’s writing and whose writing is always considered as creative and better.
Fear of inferior handwriting – If a child cannot write in a neat and tidy manner then that could result into handwriting fear when parents, teachers or others start pointing at their handwriting.
Now that we understand some of the fears associated with writing anxiety, the first step that we should take is to admit that such anxiety does exist. Acceptance plays a vital role in overcoming any type of anxiety.
Parents and teachers need to be a lot more supportive and appreciative of the efforts rather than the actual work. Ask your child to write just a few lines about something that they are familiar with rather than giving a topic that they may not feel comfortable about, know less about or require research.
Teach your child to adopt iterative approach to writing where they do not write the whole essay in just one sitting instead they revisit the writing in multiple iterations. When given enough time some children may feel more comfortable about writing.
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