If practice makes a man perfect, perfectionism can definitely make him lose his sanity. Being perfect seems ideal but being flawless takes years. Your little child might be seeking perfection in everything s/he does, but does it leave her/him frustrated? A perfectionist or a perfection-seeking child gets frustrated easily, develops low self-esteem keeps comparing her/himself with peers, fears failure and gets anxious easily about performing a new task, finds making friends difficult, and feels beat up when they lose.
Perfectionists crave success, and while a healthy amount of wanting to be perfect can help a child to stay motivated, learn and grow; if unchecked, it can lead to various other health and mental issues. Your child will never be satisfied with their performance or outcome. When they fail, they are hard on themselves, and if they succeed, they are unable to enjoy the success.
While excellence is something we all strive for, aiming for perfection in all spheres of life can be detrimental and unhealthy for them.
Here are five ways to help your perfectionist child attain balance:
1. Celebrate Mistakes & Failures
Teach your child to strive for excellence rather than perfection. As a parent, keep a check on your expectations from your child. Teach your child to focus more on the process than the result, which can tilt either way. Don’t show your disappointment when s/he scores a lesser grade than you prepared for or expected. Once, you lower your expectations, your child will also get realistic in her/his approach. Do not succumb to scolding your child, rather celebrate the failures and mistakes as they teach your kid a lot more than success ever would when it comes to not being perfect.
2. Prepare for Change
Tell your child that no matter what, life cannot and does not go as planned. There are times when all preparation and hard work amounts to nothing because life has other plans, and what better example than a pandemic, to share with your child. Share examples from your life that your child can relate to. Teach your child about the difference between things we can change because they are in our control (like our behavior and habits) and things we can’t change.
3. Instill a Feeling of Self-Esteem
It is paramount that your child starts believing in her/himself and her/his capabilities. Allow them to explore other areas of interest, and engage with a different set of people. They need not win medals in everything they do but should enjoy the activities they are involved in.
4. Be a Role Model
When your child participates or performs, appreciate the step rather than the outcome. Model healthy self-talk for your child, using more compassion than criticism when talking with your child. Try to be nice to yourself when you make mistakes in front of the kids so that they learn from you.
5. Show Them How to Have Fun
Let them enjoy unstructured activities, let them get bored, and let them help around the house. Show them how to make a mess, how to clean it up, or how to help around the house. Let them find new ways to keep themselves engaged. They can volunteer for a cause or help old neighbors with you. This will help them to be less self-absorbed as well.
Perfection is over-rated. Let them have fun, and show them how it’s done.
Ananya is a Delhi-based WFH mother.
Read more: 5 Psychological Messages Of Practicing Yoga
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