You would think that I am the luckiest mother, but nothing would be farther from the truth. My son is a perfectionist. The strange thing is that he is definitely not getting it from me. I am yet to clean the cabinets that required my attention months ago, and it does not bother me.
Initially, I was immensely proud to see my son trying to get his handwriting right. Then came his obsession to finish his homework as soon as he got it. Soon enough, he was staring at his books to find out non-existent mistakes so that he could fix them. Every letter and the number had to be written perfectly.
I sat up and started paying attention when he came back crying from school just because someone else got one more star. He always knew what the other child was doing. I realized then it was not good because my son was focusing on others rather than enjoying his own success.
It feels really good that the child is trying to do his best, but this eventually snowballs into a huge problem.
Even though such kids are gifted and talented they feel “they are not good enough”. They set unrealistic goals for themselves. They often procrastinate because they are afraid that they would not be able to do it perfectly. They have a tendency to be critical of others. Such kids feel that mistakes are catastrophic. Perfectionism leads to mental anxiety.
Here is what parents can do to help the situation –
1. Unconditional love and respect is a must.
2. Accept them as they are and acknowledge their success and encourage them to do better.
3. The kids will make mistakes, tell them that it is okay to do so.
4. Let them share their negative emotions such as frustration and anxiety with you. Help them deal with those.
5. Tell them that while it is important to excel, they don’t have to try to hard to be perfect. Assure them that they are perfect for you no matter what happens.
Here is what teachers can do to nip it in the bud –
1. Reiterate to them that it is okay to make mistakes.
2. Avoid comparing students.
3. Boost the self-confidence of the child, create situations if needed to do that.
4. While it is important to correct the child also comment on the child’s strengths and accomplishments.
5. Provide a calm and relaxing environment.
Stop it while you can and your child can truly blossom into something beautiful.