The perfect child.
It sounds great, but having a child always strive for perfection can actually be a challenge. Julie Ogata from ParentMap explains.
What are the challenges with a child who wants to be perfect?
There can be a lot of stress and obsessive behaviors. According to the author of “Perfectionism and the Gifted Child," perfectionism is the pursuit of excellence taken to the extreme, so it interferes with everyday life.
Seattle child expert Jan Faull says perfectionists mainly fall into two categories: underachievers and overachievers.
Underachievers tend to be paralyzed trying to be perfect. They don’t want to make a mistake or try new things because they’re afraid they might not be the best.
Overachievers, on the other hand, push themselves so hard, it can have an impact on their mental health. They can feel anxious, depressed and stressed out.
What are some sign that you have a little perfectionist?
- Procrastination -- because they want to avoid making a mistake.
- Obsession -- over getting something just right
- No finishing point -- They want to keep working until it’s just “perfect.”
- Crying -- or getting frustrated easily by everyday activities.
How does this strive for perfection start?
Some research shows firstborn children and gifted children are more apt to be perfectionists. It could be because firstborns also have first-time parents trying to get everything just right.
But typically, experts tell ParentMap that the drive for perfection comes from mom or dad leading by example.
Also, sometimes false praise such as “you’re the best” or “you’re just perfect” makes the child feel like they have to live up to that instead of just praising your child’s efforts.
How can parents help?
You can help them find balance between trying their best and the need to be perfect.
If your child is obsessing over something, try to distract them. Leave the “scene of the crime,” go for a walk.
Offer to talk about it and acknowledge the frustrations and try to help your child let go of that need to be perfect.
Explain about how failing at something can be good, and you can probably learn so much more from it.
Read about famous people that were not perfect, but achieved greatness such as Abraham Lincoln. He ran for office several times and lost before being elected President.
Also, focus on effort rather than the end product. This is an important and basic part of motivating any child in a positive way.