Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dealing with perfectionism in kids

We have our share of perfectionists around here. Alas, they do not obsess about clean floors or neat handwriting or neatly folded clothing in completely-closed dresser drawers. Instead they get upset when they don't understand things the first time through, or have to correct their work, or don't win.

The most effective way to handle this kind of problem, I think, is the Carol Dweck approach to praise: focus on effort, not on results. But when a child is already emotionally stuck, I resort to my mantras:

1. Practice makes progress.
2. It's nothing personal: there's a reason there's an eraser on every pencil.
3. Yet. You mean, 'I can't do it yet.'
4. You don't have to hate it, you just have to work at it.
5. When you're 'no good' at something you can do more of it and get better, or do less of it and get worse.
6. It's not a crime to make a mistake. Especially if you fix it -- and learn from it.

If someone's deeply stuck and panicky, we aim for eight deep breaths, belly out like pregnant ladies. It helps to clear the fog of anxiety, and get those brains working again.

It's a long, slow battle. We haven't gotten there (yet), but practice makes progress.

1 comment:

  1. "...there's a reason there's an eraser on every pencil." Love it!