View Full Version : Parenting a perfectionist

04-15-2011, 05:23 PM
My 4 year old is a perfectionist and its driving me batty! If she can't do it perfectly, she won't even try. (She was my latest walker, at 17 months, but when she did it, she walked across the room!) I'm seeing this pattern over & over. She will have a meltdown when asked to do anything she doesn't know how to do. Often, if you can just get her to try the small steps, she realizes she can. She tries to do things the way her sister does and when she can't do it, howls of frustration follow.

A couple of recent examples.. her dance class was trying on their recital costumes (something out of the ordinary, and she didn't know what to expect) and when we come in the instructor blurts out "where's her bow?" All the other costumes came with a bow, her's was missing.. meltdown ensues.

Today, in her Cubbies book, she was supposed to draw the garden where the tomb was. She had a meltdown about not being able to draw flowers. She wanted me to draw them for her. (I didn't, but showed her a few examples).

Anybody else have a perfectionist? Any tips on keeping her on an even keel?

Jodi B
04-15-2011, 05:36 PM
:hi: Me with ds1. :perplex: :crazy: :group:

Are we there yet? No, but helping him down verbally has gone a long way. Being consistent in not making a deal about small mistakes helps. Having that affirmation that making mistakes for some things (for him, karate) helps a lot.

Jekka Renee
04-15-2011, 05:49 PM
That's my 5 year old - right down to the not walking at 17 months. Funny how I never associated the walking with the perfectionism until you mentioned it just now.

There are little things that give him pushes to try, although finding those things can be difficult. For example: How did I get him to draw? The boy (exact same age as him) that he sponsors through Compassion draws him pictures all the time. He wanted to draw pictures back, so he decided he could draw. Now, he'll do it all the time. Nothing I could have done would have encouraged that development - it's something he has to determine for himself. I'm just waiting for Rudy to start writing to him, maybe then he'll decide handwriting can enter our curriculum.
He wouldn't read until we started Starfall - because the fun of the computer program outweighed, in his mind, the struggle of reading.

Everything in life is a balance/ struggle with a perfectionist. I don't think there is an easy way to convince them to try or accept things that aren't just so. If I'm wrong PLEASE let me know what this magic solution is!

Kendra AU
04-15-2011, 06:24 PM
One of the biggest thing that has helped our perfectionist is to tell him stories of when we messed up ourselves. To remind him on Jesus is perfect and if we all were there'd be no need for the cross, etc.

Hayley M
04-15-2011, 06:28 PM
I have one of those. He is almost 13 now, and is still somewhat like this. The good news is that as he has gotten older he has developed more self-awareness, and I can point out these behaviors to him and his faulty logic (in a very kind and supportive way, of course). Understanding your own behavior only comes with more maturity... there is no way to really force it.

Laura F
04-15-2011, 07:38 PM
Understanding your own behavior only comes with more maturity... there is no way to really force it.

:yes: Just wanted to say that as someone who grew up with these same tendencies, it's very difficult for a parent to change this part of the child's personality. My perfectionism motivated me to wait to the last minute to write term papers, create science fair projects, etc, etc. It drove my mom nuts. In high school she finally let go of trying to "fix" my character flaw and let me suffer the consequences of too little sleep the night before a deadline. I'd love to tell you that I learned my lesson early in life, but I'm rather hard-headed.

It wasn't until my 30s that I figured out how my desire to do things perfectly is really a control issue and contributes to my struggle with anxiety.

At this point in my post, I'm not sure why I'm telling you all of this. I guess I just wanted to assure you that your dd will eventually have to take ownership of her perfectionism, but it may take her years to realize that it's a problem.

I will suggest bribery/positive reinforcement :). Is she motivated by stickers, a fun outing, or a small something special in exchange for controlling her temper? It's just a thought.... Otherwise I highly recommend taking Jodi's advice!

Marsha in Fl
04-16-2011, 08:13 AM
I don't know that I have a perfectionist per se, but our mantra in our family is NO BIG DEAL!!! If she makes a mistake in math, NO BIG DEAL! That is why God made erasers! She was balking at doing the parents only performance after her co-op ballet class, and I repeated, NO BIG DEAL. She did it and was beaming after.;)

It has been a great time to teach the differences between mistakes and sin, too. I also tell about mistakes I've made. One of their favorites is when I was driving to Chick-fil-a and pulled into the bank!:lol:

I know in the "moment", the reasoning goes right out the window. I usually try to speak to her about it when the emotions aren't so high and she's in a receptive mood. I keep it light and say, "hey, remember when you didn't think you could do xxxx, well, what happened?" She says (usually sheepishly), "I did it." Me -"And you ROCKED IT! So, you think next time you could remember this and try?"

It doesn't always help and we still have meltdowns but they have decreased dramatically!!:clap: