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Dealing with Perfectionism in Our Children

Dealing with Perfectionism in Our Children 2

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On my Meet Sallie page I identify myself as a recovering perfectionist. I consider myself a recovering one because I am aware of my propensity to go in that direction and so I strive to keep it in check. I’ve come a loooong way from where I was twenty or thirty years ago although I don’t think anyone ever completely changes in this area. So the topic of perfectionism is one that I’m very personally acquainted with.

I’ve read quite a bit about perfectionism over the years in an attempt to deal with my own. I’m currently reading Letting Go of Perfect: Overcoming Perfectionism in Kids which I received as a review copy from Prufrock Press. Like the introvert book I mentioned a few days ago, this is the first time I’ve tackled a book on the topic of perfectionism from the perspective of a parent reading to help her child.

While I really liked Quiet Kids: Help Your Introverted Child Succeed in an Extroverted World and found it helpful, I’m a bit ambivalent about Letting Go of Perfect: Overcoming Perfectionism in Kids. The first couple of chapters are rather dry with lots of studies cited. If someone is looking for lots of documentation, then they would probably like this. I found the writing style breaks up the flow and made the chapters less readable and enjoyable. I also think they should have hired a better illustrator. The illustrations take away from the content. For such a serious book, the illustrations are very juvenile.

On the plus side, it does a good job of laying out seven common myths about perfectionists. The authors then describe the six different kinds of perfectionists with numerous examples.  (Many people are not aware that there are different kinds of perfectionists and might even be surprised to discover someone they know is a perfectionist because it manifests itself in different ways.) The book finishes up with healthy versus unhealthy perfectionism, classroom strategies, and general strategies for parents.

In our own experience with perfectionism so far as parents, the number one point we have made over and over again to Caroline is that failure is expected and a normal part of life. We’ve told her that if all three of us aren’t failing on a regular basis, then we’re missing out on opportunities to learn and grow.

I love the story of Sarah Blakely whose parents asked her and her brother on a near daily basis what they had failed at. Failure was expected because it meant they were trying new things. For Sarah failure wasn’t something to fear, but embrace. I think the willingness to embrace failure can go a long way in helping many perfectionists begin to deal with their perfectionism. If I have one regret from growing up, it is the fact that I wish I had failed earlier and more often so that I would have learned to overcome better in those situations. Hopefully I can encourage my child to embrace failure more readily and avoid at least some of the traps of unhealthy perfectionism.

Dealing with Perfectionism in Our Children 2


Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

My Gift to You!

“We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder

“After Laura and Mary had washed and wiped the dishes, swept the floor, made their bed, and dusted, they settled down with their books. But the house was so cozy and pretty that Laura kept looking up at it.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek

“They were cosy and comfortable in their little house made of logs, with the snow drifted around it and the wind crying because it could not get in by the fire.”
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House in the Big Woods


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