From Beyond BookSmart
By Brittany Wadbrook
June 27, 2016
Are you worried that your child tends toward perfectionism?
As coaches, we often encounter students with perfectionistic mindsets in combination with other
Executive Function challenges. When students focus on producing “perfect” work, it can not only be counterproductive but research suggests it can even prove harmful. The good news is that the right kind of support can help ensure that such mindsets won't derail your child.
What is Perfectionism?
Perfectionism is not simply when a student strives for excellence. In a New York Times magazine article, Melissa Dahl quotes psychologist Thomas S. Greenspoon, explaining that “perfectionistic people typically believe that they can never be good enough, that mistakes are signs of personal flaws, and that the only route to acceptability as a person is to be perfect.” That’s a lot of pressure for a student to handle.
How Does Perfectionism in Students Manifest?
Parents want to see their children achieve good results for their efforts — but when a child is mired in perfectionism, it can lead to hours wasted in ineffective pursuit of the perfect essay, report, or problem set — with very little on paper to show for all that effort. And frequently, there are plenty of tears and meltdowns in the process, as well. It’s easy to imagine the frustration involved in attempting to produce error-free assignments. After all, mistakes are a natural and expected part of the learning process!
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