How do we help our children that are perfectionists?
In my research I have found a web site written by Christine Carter, Ph D from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley to be very helpful. Below is a portion of her blog about PERFECTIONISM. For more information check out Christine’s blog. http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/post/perfectionism_is_a_disease/
“A lot of people incorrectly assume that perfectionism propels kids to the top of their class, their teams, and eventually their fields. But it isn't the perfectionism that is doing it, it is the hard work. To the contrary, perfectionism tends to detract from success:
- 1.Perfectionism creates a steady state of discontent fueled by a stream of negative emotions like fear, frustration, and disappointment.
- 2.When you are a perfectionist, you can't enjoy even your successes—there is always something you could have done better.
- 3.Because failure is not an option for perfectionists, fear of failure becomes a driving force. All that fear diverts energy from more constructive things, making perfectionists less able to learn and be creative. Perfectionists expend a lot of energy on the things they are desperately trying to avoid: failure and the criticism they imagine it will create. Ironically, this preoccupation has been shown to undermine performance in sports, in academics, and in social situations.
- 4.Perfectionism--like all fixed-mindset thinking—keeps kids from taking risks and embracing challenge. Rising to a challenge is one of the best ways to go from being good at something to being great.
- 5.Perfectionism leads kids to conceal their mistakes and avoid getting constructive feedback. In nearly every field—writing groups are the most obvious example here—group critique is a rapid way to get better at something.
We also know that for the most part, kids aren't born perfectionists—their environment creates them. As parents put more and more pressure on their children to achieve, more and more children are becoming perfectionists.”
Carol Dweck from Stanford has spent many years studying growth mindsets. Her research suggests when we focus on success alone we inhibit growth. Praise can distract from achievement. When we focus on the effort that went into the success we encourage growth.
Here is an article from the New York Times about Dweck’s research called: HOW NOT TO TALK TO YOUR KIDS http://nymag.com/news/features/27840/
We can praise our kids all day long, as long we focus on effort, commitment, resourcefulness, and tenacity. When we value success and failure we set up our children to be life long learners able to meet challenges in their daily lives.