Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Dealing with perfectionism in kids
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.