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Dealing with perfectionism

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Does anyone have any insight or book/website recommendations for helping my almost five year old overcome her perfectionist tendencies? I don't know that she's gifted, per se, so I didn't post in the gifted forum, but I do find that she's the most critical of herself and easily frustrated in the areas where she seems the most accomplished, like in drawing (mostly attempts at representative drawings) and in language skills like reading and writing. She gets quite despondent and unhappy and gives up because her attempts don't come out like she wants them too. Happy activities, like drawing a picture for a special friend, can often end in tears.
post #2 of 8
I'll be watching the responses. My 5 yr old dd acts very similar.
post #3 of 8
I don't know if there if there IS a way to overcome this. If there is, I'd sure as heck like to know about it. I'm a perfectionist and 99% of the time I wish I wasn't. It comes in handy when I have a task to perform ro someone asks me for a favor- you can bet it gets done correctly and on time, but oh wow the rest of the time I find myself just wishing I wouldn't CARE.

As a child I remember that any form of critisism was like taking a bullet. If a teacher had to speak to me about improvement or god forbid reprimand me, it was like I became so upset I would not only cry then and there but have a hard time facing them and the task even the next day.

Not sure where it came form becasue my parents are NOT perfectionists- they can hardly get through a day- so now I'm just left worrying about how my own tendencies will affect DS. As if we parents don't have enough to worry about.

Anyway...off on a tangent here. I'll be looking forward to responses too!
post #4 of 8
Originally Posted by BarnMomma View Post
I don't know if there if there IS a way to overcome this. If there is, I'd sure as heck like to know about it. I'm a perfectionist and 99% of the time I wish I wasn't.
Yeah, I know how you feel. I'm a perfectionist too. My perfectionism has actually manifested at times as inactivity. There have been a lot of things I haven't tried in my life because I figured if I didn't try, I couldn't fail at it. I remember being around 5 and refusing to join the soccer team that my sister and 2 cousins were joining because I didn't want to go into it not knowing how to play already. Makes sense, huh?

I'm only now (at almost 34) figuring out how to overcome this tendency. I think I've just gotten to the point that I don't care as much what others think and I have more faith in myself now. I'm also ok (mostly) with the fact that I may not be the best at something I try.

I don't want my daughter to have to go through her life feeling the pressure of perfectionism.
post #5 of 8
Moved to The Childhood Years
post #6 of 8
Dweck's book Mindset is right on the point, and in my opinion her approaches work. One of the best parenting purchases I ever made.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the thumbs-up on Dweck's book. I noticed that my library system has it (though it's checked out), so I think I'll request it to read after I finish my current book.

One of the reasons I'm so concerned is a conversation I had with my mom about it. My mom reacted really strongly (more strongly than I usually see her react to anything) that I needed to figure out a way to help my daughter through this. My mom, as a really naturally talented "drawer and depicter," always wanted to be an artist, but felt stymied her whole life by her perfectionism, and really feels like it has handicapped her considerably.
post #8 of 8
I am certainly no expert on the subject and don't have any book recommendations, but I used to teach kids art and currently work with kids as a classroom aide. Some kids are just wired this way, but I do think it is something that can be worked on and will benefit them in the long run.

One important thing is to model making mistakes. So often as adults we are only telling kids the right thing to do. It is really powerful for them to see us making mistakes, taking it in stride (or even laughing about it) and moving on productively. Any exposure to this is helpful, though a culture (school, home, etc) of this mindset is the best.

As far as art goes, is there is any way to get DD involved in process driven art? Lots of experimenting and not focusing on the end result might help. I'd also go to museums or galleries that have nonrepresentational art and talk about the importance/meaning of this kind of work - expressing ideas and feeling without being literal, and how some things can be better said this way. In the real art world, creativity is far more important than technical skill.

Some perfectionist kids will always have these tendencies, but I personally have seen some improvements. I can empathize with your mom, and agree if we can instill any amount of fearlessness (artistic and academic, not physical!) it will go a long way
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