As parents, one of the biggest challenges can be seeing our children’s full potential restricted by their fears and anxieties. Anyone who is a perfectionist is relieved to find out that there are others who think and struggle like they do. We can offer the comfort and reassurance to our kids that there is nothing wrong with them – and that they can be helped with generous understanding, acceptance and a way to push back on the things that cripple their progress.
Here are five questions I often get asked by parents of perfectionists (parents who may well be perfectionists themselves!). My hope is that in answering these questions, I can empower parents to experience a deeper understanding of how their amazing child sees the world and their place in it. And as we engage in this conversation, we can all learn new ways to call out the gold in each other.
How can you spot a perfectionist? Their rooms may not be tidy, their manners may be missing and they may do lots of things inperfectly but what stands out in making someone a perfectionist?
Perfectionists can be quite hidden – they may not even know they are one but there are a few teltale signs that give you an inkling that your child (or you) is a bit of a perfectionist.
Do any of these relate?
Avoid taking risks or trying something new
Hate making mistakes
Believe that they should not have to practise anything – and simply be good at it from the start
Watch from the side-line until they can memorise or master something
Put off starting something until there is no time left
Do well at school and unravel at home
Does it run in the family? If parents are inclined to have very high standards, be picky about things, intent on always being right – can it show up in their children?
It often does, but adults may have found ways to cope with their perfectionist tendencies. It can also make parents anxious if they see their child struggle with the similar sorts of things they themselves still struggle with. The great thing is that parents can ease themselves out of being a perfectionist and grow alongside their child. They can help a child see what is going on and how it might limit their choices too.