It's called "self-assessment," that ability to take a step back and evaluate your own work objectively. Too much self-assessment and you're a nervous perfectionist. Too little self-assessment and you're the star in a televised-because-it's-hideous American Idol audition.
It's something we're working on here, because my eldest child has boundless confidence (which we have encouraged) and zero objectivity. Confidence with a capital C, headed straight into Randy's cross hairs.
Maybe it's not the absence of self-assessment skills. It's just that when she does self-assess, her assessment is that she is freakin' awesome. And she has every right to believe that because it's what we've been telling her every day of her life for 10 years. She really is an amazing kid...
...Whose art output is average. Whose year at the piano was less than excellent. Whose never ending "shows" were cute at 3...4...5...but not 10.
I want to be the mom who just says "that's WONDERFUL, honey!" But I'm afraid those days are over. Now, with a fair amount of heartbreak, I have to say "is that really your best work?" or "how can we make that better?" or, in the case of piano or other school work, "No, that's wrong. (then, bracing myself...) Do it again."
I think this may be the hardest part of homeschooling - being an objective teacher and coach as well as an encouraging and helpful parent. Continuing to encourage this particular kid (confession: many times I say something just so she'll go away for a few minutes) is doing her a tremendous disservice, because of the crazy amount of potential she has to do enormous things, if someone is just brave enough to push her a bit.
So help me out here. If you see this kid, challenge her. Push her. Don't make me do it alone. Give her work that's way beyond her years, and don't tell her it's okay if she does half of it. Love her. Tell her she's beautiful and sweet and kind and all of that, but push her to always do her best, which is better than she knows. She, like many of us, is motivated by the approval of adults, and it's time for the adults around her to raise the bar - as much as I hate the idea of her ever believing she's not good enough, she needs to know her true ability.
Remind her of the gospel. Remind her that nothing that she does, no matter how good or how bad, changes the way that Jesus loves her, or the fact that he saved her when she gave her little heart to him and then planned her own baptism party. But push her to use her gifts, because he gave them to her. Help her keep her confidence - but a confidence that flows from her identity as a child of the king, not from insincere approval of mediocre artwork. That, friends, is hard, and she will need your help.