building tomorrows stars

Perfectionist children

Article By: Melanie Hartgill - Educational Psychologist

Children tend to strive for perfection when there is a heavy emphasis on performance both at home and at school. We have to remember that society tends to judge people’s level of intelligence and ability according to their scores and grades at school. When children are only praised for their achievements, they are conditioned to believe that their value as individuals lies in what they are able to produce.

Perfectionist children are simply not satisfied with doing well or doing better than their peers, they are only satisfied if they feel they have done a job perfectly. Perfectionists often fear failure and as a result will often try and avoid situations in which their performance is going to be judged, socially as well as academically.

They often find it difficult to begin tasks as they are rarely able to begin it to their satisfaction and as children, tantrums are frequent as they are frustrated with their inabilities when they try to achieve a level of perfectionism that they are developmentally incapable of. Fear of failure often prevents them from attempting something unfamiliar.

  • Perfectionist children often need assistance in organising themselves in their work. They need to learn about prioritising so they can determine which work is more important than others and they also need to be helped in identifying starting points and ending points.
  • Teach them how to change plans when working and how to learn from their mistakes
  • Set clear deadlines and targets for various tasks
  • Help them to develop an awareness of time
  • Keep in close contact and communication with the child’s teacher
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