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How to Overcome Perfectionism in Children

How to Practically Overcome the Ghost of Perfectionism in Children

Dealing with your child's perfectionism can be a tough nut to crack. It not only takes a toll on you, but also shakes up your child in a lot of ways. It's imperative that you imbibe this quality in your child very gradually, so that it doesn't seem like a sudden jolt.
Mukta Gaikwad
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
A perfectionist will settle for nothing less than the preset standard. Anything less, is termed as a failure and anything more remains unacknowledged. Sometimes, being a perfectionist keeps one motivated to achieve bigger goals, set higher standards and give a hundred percent to everything. However, for a few, perfectionism comes with unacceptable mistakes, severe self judgment, constant criticism, self reproach, self-consciousness and high sensitivity to criticism.
A child who continuously deems himself unworthy of rewards and awards, because of minor shortcomings to meet the targets, can be a victim of perfectionism. To avert psychological disorders related to perfectionism, it is important to teach your child that failing does not always mean losing.
Overcoming Perfectionism in Children
A classic perfectionist child takes up a challenge, if only it can be met with perfection. This makes your child afraid of taking up most of the tasks, such as participating in sports and social interactions. He will over work himself till the task is complete to his expectations and will rarely delegate work to others. Competing fiercely, being unsatisfied with work, being in self doubt if the task is not complete in time, being embarrassed about his mistakes, feeling angry if criticized, quick decision-making without consulting anyone else and believing that the task could have been done in a much better way are a few signs of perfectionism in children.
If this becomes a permanent habit, it can harm your child's cognition and make him depressed and gloomy. Let's see a few tips to understand how to help your child overcome perfectionism and to become stronger in thought and sentiment.
  • Make your child talk about his mistakes and help him express his grief, anger and frustration. Venting out and sharing feelings brings objectivity to the situation.
  • Every mistake can be rectified by learning something from it. Thus, every failure gives one the opportunity to perform better the next time. If this is the lesson your child takes home, the perfectionist in him will soon be a realist!
  • Teach your child coping skills, help him see the importance of second chances and forgiveness.
  • Give your child opportunities, which will help him explore his talents, hone his skills and improve his self-confidence.
  • Words of encouragement and acknowledgment of your child's strengths, efforts and accomplishments, will boost his confidence and make him take up more challenges with positivity and optimism.
  • As parents and teachers begin to recognize child's virtues, it helps a child to recognize the same too.
  • Constructive observations and criticisms with solutions, can help your child see what went wrong and how to rectify the problem the next time.
  • Strictly avoid comparing your child with his peers, as it will worsen the problem. It will only make your child agitated and intensify the perfectionist in him.
  • Reducing pressures of extra curricular activities and academics, will provide your child a breather and scope to understand himself better.
  • Help your child set realistic standards as opposed to preposterous goals. This goes a long way in helping the child comprehend his strengths and weaknesses.
  • Encourage your child to interact with peers of his age, to know his social standing, to be more tolerant towards others, realize his social behavior and understand that it is not always important to achieve something.
  • Developing effective communication skills, which aid in expression, venting of emotions, enhancing insight and honing active listening skills also subdue perfectionism in children, as they learn to take in suggestions.
  • Make your child understand that it is only human to make mistakes and not much can be earned or accomplished without making them. When a child learns that mistakes are a part of growing up, it makes them explore new things.
  • Teaching them to learn from their own mistakes, will indirectly teach them troubleshooting and problem solving.
Children are quick judges, which makes it difficult for elders to break down their walls of perfectionism. Dealing with a child's perfectionism can be tough on a parent, as it puts one under constant scrutiny and judgment. Broadening your child's thought and helping him understand the larger picture, is the only way of helping your child cope up with adverse effects of perfectionism.