Jean’s son Jaylen may not understand a lot of social concepts. He may not realize someone is being mean. He may not understand what an attitude is. However, Jaylen definitely understands the concept of being the best. So much so that he developed a bit of an obsession about being the best at everything. Jaylen is teetering on developing perfectionism, a form of anxiety.
A Competitive Spirit Gone Awry – Perfectionism
Jean shares, “I think having a competitive spirit is great thing, especially since I always worried about Jaylen being so passive that he would simply watch others around him achieve things without even noticing. However, now, if my son isn’t the best, he thinks he isn’t good enough.”
Jean opted to enroll Jaylen in Karate. It helped to teach him to be more assertive and driven, pulling him out of the passivity Jean was concerned about.
Jaylen realizes he is not the best in his entire Karate class, but insists he is the best in his age group. This is good in the sense that it builds up his self-confidence and gives him pride in something he truly cares about achieving success in.
At school, Jaylen is much harder on himself. If he gets one thing wrong, you would think the end of the world is near. Since he isn’t the best reader, even though he is one of the top four, he assumes he is not good. He is the second best writer, but to him that means he can’t write.
Build Self-Confidence to Combat Perfectionism
Mom and Dad decided to focus on building Jaylen’s confidence. Neither Jean or her husband are perfectionists. Venturing into unknown territory, they decided the single most important thing to do was to tell Jaylen that they were proud of him. They didn’t want Jaylen to ever thing that he let his parents down in any way.
Emphasize Do YOUR Best
“As long as you did your best, it was good enough” became the parental mantra.
At Jaylen’s school, their was a word wall with sight words for oral testing. Anyone who knew all of the words would get to be a Word Wall Master. This was a big deal for Jaylen. He could read the first 5 words with no challenge, but as the words increased in difficulty, Jean began to worry about her son. She continued to emphasize their “Do YOUR best” mantra. After 3 months telling him we will always be proud and stressing that trying his best was more important than any grade or award, he has gained more positive self-esteem.
PerfectionISM – A Child’s Need to Succeed…PERFECTLY!
“It’s 5pm and my son Jay has been working on the same homework problem for an hour now. “Jay, please stop. I will write a letter to your teacher explaining that you just did not understand it and she will go over it in class. I am sure if you did not get it others didn’t too. That is what homework is all about. It is a way for the teacher to see if you got the lesson she taught in school. Please… put your pencil down,” I plead with my 10 year old son. But Jay is stuck. His need to succeed, to get it right, to be perfect is too strong.
Jay has Asperger’s Syndrome and the world to him is either black or white. No matter how hard I try to show him that there are so many pretty colors in between, he just doesn’t see them. He sways back and forth between not wanting to give up on something and not wanting to even try, if he knows he can’t be PERFECT at it. It is a constant struggle, the demon that rages its ugly head in our home the most.
The nastiest “ISM” of them all in my opinion: PERFECTIONISM!” Read On…
“Probability Goals” Keep Your Perfectionist Child from Giving Up
You may not think of your child as a “perfectionist”, after all, he may have a terribly untidy room or he may take little care in his writing when doing homework but perfectionist children aren’t necessarily “perfect in every way”. Sometimes perfection-ism only affects a small part of their lives. In any case, there are subtle signs to look out for.
How to Deal With a Child Who is a Perfectionist
Being a perfectionist can be more damaging than you might think. These kids often burn out long before they make it to college. They often have lower self-esteem than their peers, even though their performance is far superior.
So how do you deal with a child who is a perfectionist? How do you help them reach their full potential without such self-criticism? Natasha Daniels, LCSW of Anxious Toddlers – Parenting Survival of All Ages backs up what these parents are doing to support their perfectionistic children.
How Can I Help My Perfectionist Child?
Daniels also offers a video series, Ask the Child Therapist, and answers the question, “How can I help my perfectionist child?” From perfectionist toddlers to perfectionist teens – children who strive to be perfect are over stressed. A perfectionist child can have more tantrums, meltdowns and late nights full of worries.
Are you raising a perfectionist child?