perfectionism issues - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 02-28-2003, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Can anyone recommend any books or techniques on how to cope with a child who has inherited his father's need to be perfect. Ds is 3 and has recently started freaking out and I mean FREAKING out when he colors outside the line (dh is the one that told him lines were for coloring inside of), puts his sock on slightly twisted, forgets to flush the toilet, doesn't get the glue exactly where he wanted on the paper and so on. It has become so bad that almost everything he does all day long is not good enough and he freaks out and yells, "it is not is not ok" It is getting so bad that he is miserable about every 15 min all day long. I don't enjoy doing many activities with him and I fear introducing something challenging because if he can't do it, he gets very very angry. I recognize that this is a personality trait that both he and dh have and that I can not make it go away, but I need to help him be able to cope so that he is not so angry and stressed all day. Dh has relaxed a little in the 8 years I have known him, but feels that his lack of drive to achieve everything perfectly is a flaw. I think because it was a major factor in getting him out of his mothers control and into a very successful and enjoyable career. Any way I am the complete opposite. Somebody has to cut off a finger before I start to get too worked up. Sometimes I sit back when ds is having one of his tantrums and wonder how one little crayon can make someone so angry. I used to jump right in and try to calm him down, saying, "it's ok, it's ok, let mommy show you how to fix it...." Now, I aknowledge that he is frustrated and/or angry and that it isn't ok, but then invite him back to see if he can make it better. Usually he is so pissed at the error that it ends the activity. So if anybody has any suggestions or books on the subject I would very much appreciate it.
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#2 of 4 Old 03-01-2003, 01:07 AM
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I suggest for the tried-and-true method of screwing up more often yourself, or making it obvious to him when you've made a mistake, and showing your son how you handle it. If I drop a jar of pasta sauce and it breaks, I capitalize on it as an opportunity to teach my son, "Oops, mommy made a mistake. She accidentally dropped this sauce. No big deal, we've just got to clean it up." Likewise, in my classroom, if I accidentally misspell a word on the boear, I'm happy for the chance to remind my second graders that "nobody's perfect- see, even I make mistakes!" And of course, it will be especially important for your husband to learn to do the same. He is the one, it seems, who is doing most of the modeling or perfectionistic behavior. You won't be able to change it by yourself if he continues to be that way in front of your son. This may be a good opportunity for him to learn to "loosen up," and it may wind up helping him feel more relaxed, too!
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#3 of 4 Old 03-01-2003, 01:29 AM
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The sock thing got me....I have that same issue, and so does my dh. Read Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Amongst many other wonderful things, she addresses this exact issue (we also cut the tags off most of our clothing), and talks about dealing with kids who have sensory overload like this. I'm totally serious. Flipped socks wig me out.

Also I like the making lots of mistakes idea. I use that one a lot too. I also frequently ask kids (when they're upset about a mistake they made) if they tried their best. If they say yes, then I respond, "Then that's all anyone can ever ask of you, right?" It usually seems to make them feel better. But you might want to wait until yours is a little older for that one.
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#4 of 4 Old 03-01-2003, 02:50 AM
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Sorry not much help here - I'm an adult perfectionist and probably NOT doing my kids any good - cause I have to do everything myself cause nobody else can do it RIGHT.......

Good Luck
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