Perfectionism in Gifted Children » K5 Gifted

Perfectionism in Gifted Children

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It's the personal characteristic that can be a blessing and a curse. Check out our tips for keeping a healthy eye on your child's perfectionism.​
K5 Gifted blog: perfectionism in gifted elementary children

High Standards

  • Fortunately: Can propel them toward higher achievement.
  • Unfortunately: Can drive them to frustration and despair.
  • Fortunately: Can allow them to create beautiful products.
  • Unfortunately: Can cause them to shy away from challenges for fear of failure.
  • Fortunately: Can allow them to fully concentrate and become absorbed.
  • Unfortunately: Can make it difficult to transition to less desirable activities.

Healthy Perfectionism

  • Finds order and organization.
  • Learns from mistakes.
  • Finds positive ways to work with their demanding tendencies.
  • Seeks role models who emphasize doing their personal best.
  • Accepts personal effort as part of perfectionism.

Dysfunctional Perfectionism

  • Anxious about making mistakes.
  • High standards that are unattainable.
  • Perceives negative criticism from others.
  • Questions one’s own judgement.
  • Lacks coping strategies.
  • Constantly needs approval.

Escaping dysfunction

  • Parents model healthy perfectionism: holds high standards of achievement allowing for mistakes, learning from mistakes, and a willingness to try again.
  • Teach your child the difference between excellent and perfect.
  • Excellence is achievable but perfection is not.
  • Practice makes “progress” but never perfection.
  • Teach your child to self-evaluate; move forward.
  • Help them determine if perceived pressure from others is real.
  • Teach them to keep their eyes on the progress in the journey rather than fixate on the outcome.
  • Allow for mistakes and even failure – be supportive; encourage them to try a different strategy toward success; focus on “not yet”.

In closing

Setting high goals is a wonderful thing to do, as long as those goals don’t become unattainable or anxiety producing; perfection isn’t possible!

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