Anyone with a perfectionist child?

Discussion in 'Homeschooling' started by Meghan, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. Meghan

    Meghan New Member

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    Does anyone else have a perfectionistic child that can't stand to do something wrong?


    My ds (9) has ALWAYS been like that. When he was a baby, he wouldn't babble unless we were out of the room. He learned to talk somewhat late- but once he did, he had a fantastic vocabulary.

    Before he even started school, when he was 4-ish, I would tell him, "it doesn't have to be perfect to be perfect." That really helped, and he is much easier on himself than he used to be.

    But he hates to mess up. He won't draw because he hates the way it looks. And spelling is a toughie for him (he isn't a natural speller although he's doing very well). Every time he misses a word, he gets VERY upset. Since we are doing Spelling Power, I really don't care if he misses every word. The program is working, and he remembers how to spell anything he misses. Besides, the first run through he doesn't even get to look at them, so I EXPECT misspellings. His math is generally easy for him, but he is quick to get frustrated with himself if he doesn't IMMEDIATELY get something.

    Lately I've started saying, "We can't learn anything if we don't make mistakes." Hopefully that sticks!

    (it sort of reminds me of me... I taught myself to ride a bike at 10. After going through beginner swimming lessons 3x, I finally taught myself to swim years later. I just can't perform very well for other people)
     
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  3. northernmomma

    northernmomma New Member

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    Perfectionism. Hmm yup. Ds was really stuck on perfection when he started here. Then he noticed a few comical moments that even Mom isn't perfect. I know I shattered the illusion kids have lol. But it made him realize that that's ok. I tell my kids even the smartest minds never got to their conclusions without first discarding many other ideas. God made us imperfect and He still loves us. We should love ourselves too then and forgive ourselves our mistakes. Also when he melts down. I tease him..as we usually tease a lot in this family. Anyway I tease him and ask him if he thinks the world will end with his mistake. Or will the sun not rise the next day? lol He will generally roll his eyes like, 'oh Mom.' But it lightens his mood. And he realizes now that mistakes are natural. :) Not easy though to teach and some people are born perfectionists and thats ok too.
     
  4. kbabe1968

    kbabe1968 New Member

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    Yes. All three of my kids are that way. Unfortunately, so are my husband and I on ourselves. It's learned behavior.

    We use much the same mantras "learning from mistakes, etc.". DS 9 had a meltdown over a missed math problem today. I alway say - as long as you understand what you did wrong, then move on, and maybe next time you won't make the same mistake. He spent about 15 mins really mad at himself over it. So I know.

    I can't do any grading for my oldest until she is completely done for the day. If i grade a test right after she takes it - and she misses something - it ruins the rest of her day. She will literally stew over it for hours and let it derail her whole day. I finally learned to not grade her stuff until she was in bed. And then talk to her about it the next day. For some reason when she's fresh in the a.m. she doesn't react the same - but if she's in the middle of momentum, she gets freaked.

    Sigh. So, yes....I know what you're going through three-fold.
     
  5. mykidsrock

    mykidsrock New Member

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    My oldest is also that way. I was told that if you point out your mistakes, and work at handling them well, it will rub off. I've been doing a parent participation music class with him, and we practice our piano together. It's made a huge difference to him to see that I make mistakes too!

    I still have to provide tons of encouragement, and reminders that I expect mistakes - that's why we're learning. Things have generally been improving though. It's not quite the battle it used to be.

    Keep encouraging him! Try not to get too frustrated, and you'll both make it through!
     
  6. ForTheSon

    ForTheSon New Member

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    I think it helps is you tell them, "There is a saying, practice makes perfect. This means that if you get it wrong, then practice until you get it right. There wouldn't be this saying if everyone got it right the first time."
     
  7. CarolLynn

    CarolLynn New Member

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    Actually, I think it is more complicated than that. My DH and I are both very relaxed, not slackers, but not perfectionists by a long shot. Our oldest daughter is an extreme perfectionist, to the point that I feel bad for her. I have never expected perfection from her, and have always told our children, that mistakes happen, and that if they did their best they can feel good about it. My mother was very harsh in regard to her expectations. I can remember coming home from school, telling my mother that I got a 98 on my Biology exam. Mind you, I was feeling great about this score, given that I had a fever on the day I took it, and even dozed off briefly during the test. My mother's response: "Why not 100?" It didn't matter that I had gotten the highest grade in the class, and that the teacher had scaled the grades of the rest of the class, leaving me out. No. It just wasn't perfect.. That's why I have set out from the start, trying my hardest not to put that kind of pressure on my kids. Interestingly, I am not a perfectionist buy my DD is. She came up to my room a couple nights ago, after checking on her grade for a Geometry test (on-line class), in tears. Sobbing actually. She had gotten a 96 on her mid-term exam. I told her that was great, she wanted a 100, and that is usually what she gets. Earlier during this school year she actually made herself sick, but staying up late studying night after night.

    DD has always had a very intense personality. She was born 4 1/2 weeks early, and we have joked about her being in a hurry from the get-go. I wonder if her slight pre-maturity is some of the equation. She certainly was very sensitive to excessive stimuli as an infant. Perhaps it is just the way God wired her. I pray that she will develop a healthy balance as she matures; she's already 16.

    I wish I had some great advice for the OP. I don't, but I will say, it isn't all bad. I have never had to encourage DD to try harder. My second child should be the subject for another post. :roll: :lol::lol::lol:
     
  8. CarolLynn

    CarolLynn New Member

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    That's true, but some kids really need to stop trying so hard to be perfect, like my DD.
     
  9. clumsymom

    clumsymom New Member

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    I have what I call a lazy perfectionist. lol. A dear friend labeled me that way as a teen. :). My dd wants to get everything right the first time without putting any effort into it. I can't count the number of meltdowns we have had over the years. Thankfully it is getting better. I have dealt with her attitude in several ways - not all good. I've had to work on not getting frustrated or angry. Some good responses have been calm discussion on taking life as it comes and working through tough things, humor and firmly telling her that her attitude is unacceptable. Over the years she has gotten slowly better as she matures.

    The traits in our children that are the most frustrating to us may one day be some of their best assets. It's amazing how maturity and persistent, loving parenting can effect children. Hang in there. :).
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2011
  10. fairfarmhand

    fairfarmhand New Member

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    Read the Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman.

    This one addresses the different styles of people and some ways to handle our very individual kids.
     
  11. fortressmom

    fortressmom New Member

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    I feel your pain!! DD age 8 is the ultimate perfectionist. She is incredibly bright and so most learning comes very easy for her. When she makes a mistake or feels like she's behind on something, she totally shuts down. Drives me NUTS:( Her entire personality is intense and has been from conception:) We can usually get through to her by explaining that her brain is still developing that wrinkle and she needs to practice with us to help it get really deep. She loves knowing that she's forming "trenches" in her brain.
     
  12. Embassy

    Embassy New Member

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    I have a perfectionistic child. The thing that has helped the most is the Gospel story. I share how no one is perfect and that he can't be perfect and I can't be perfect. I share that the only way he can be perfect is to accept the gift of Jesus' perfection. It helps him greatly. When he starts getting frustrated we just talk about it again. I also make sure and point out my mistakes and tell him that I'm not perfect either :)
     
  13. TeacherMom

    TeacherMom New Member

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    Dd did not talk until she could say a sentence. She has been like that all her life.
     
  14. MegCanada

    MegCanada New Member

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    I'm fortunate in that my best friend is diagnosed OCD - she knows all about perfectionism! She's helped me a lot in dealing with my perfectionist 13yo son. And she let me know when it was time to seek professional help for him. He sees a psychologist now, and it's really helped. (No more stress-induced hives! Yay!)

    In our case, my son is also gifted/learning disabled, so while he can visualize the way things should be, perfection is often entirely out of his reach. He sometimes refuses to try things, because he's afraid of failing, and he gets very anxious and angry. We used to get a lot of the "I already KNOW!!!"s around here, but he's getting better.

    Our mantra is, "Embrace your mistakes!" Having him learn an instrument has helped a lot too, because he can see and hear himself improving over time as he practices.
     
  15. Kathy

    Kathy New Member

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    I've got one here too. It was pretty bad in 1st-2nd grade but at the age of 11 she has mellowed a little bit. She hates to get things wrong and was especially hard on herself with spelling pre-tests. It didn't matter that they were words she never heard or saw before. She just wanted them to be right. It's gotten better but it still peeks through once in awhile. My dd hates that she's not as good at math as she is at spelling/language arts/handwriting. And it drives her crazy that he little brother gets math so quickly.
     
  16. KrisRV

    KrisRV New Member

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    yep my oldest just finish up high school, went through our whole homeschool days that way. Some days were hard but we got through it.
     

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