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What's to be Done About  Perfectionism in our Children?

Tom and Julie Meekins

Do you have a child in your family or your classroom who is a perfectionist?

Perfectionism can be caused by many things. A perfectionist may believe (consciously or subconsciously) that their self worth or someone's love for them is conditional upon their performance and the end products they have created. Where this kind of thought process comes from in our children is anyone's guess. Every child is different. The fact is there is wrong thinking on their part.

So, the root cause is wrong thinking.  Then the question is -- what can we do about it?

This is an exciting question because we know there are steps you can take to make a huge difference for the child (and ultimately for you who have to deal with this child  😉  We like to use 1) digital recordings, and 2) visual charts.

First of all it is important to realize how we communicate with our children. Let's ask ourselves, are we doing anything that gives our children the impression that our love for them or our appreciation for them depends on how they perform? Take some time to ponder this.

If the answer is yes, don't be riddled with guilt -- we all catch ourselves being less than what we want to be with our children. The key focus here is that we have the privilege of turning this around. We will share with you some action steps you can take to do just that in just a minute.

If your answer is no and you have been very careful to not ever give your child the impression that your love is conditional upon their behavior or performance and your child still has this struggle -- it could be that they were just born that way. Seriously, some kids just come out with interesting thought processes.

The bottom line is -- now that you are aware of the problem, it is time to work on the solution.

Sometimes certain wrong information gets settled in a child's mind and it keeps them stuck in their development. Sometimes they think very poorly of themselves (consciously and subconsciously): I am stupid, I am slow, I am not good enough, I can't do it, I am crazy, there is something wrong with me.

They may also have wrong information about you -- their parent, or you -- their teacher, or their siblings, or friends, or other relatives. They may have phobias. Their perception of life may be a little out of whack.

This is mindset.

The good news is: All that wrong information can be confronted and the mind can be filled with the truth about all those things - a different perspective can emerge. It is all about teaching. It is all about INPUT. What is in the mind becomes our reality.

What can you do about it now?

Does your child have wrong information floating around in his or her head? Is it possible that your child got stuck in a particular thought and cannot seem to shake it? Do you feel like you are saying the same things over and over and over to your children? Oftentimes (not always) behavior is a result of what is in the thinking. Guess what mom and dad (teacher, Grandmother, Grandfather, friend, Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, etc.), you can help put truth into this child and you can do it in a way that you don’t have to talk until you are blue in the face!

We work extensively on mindset with our clients teaching the adults in a child's life simple steps that can make a huge difference. Here are just a few:

Digital Recordings

Here’s a very basic step you can take to begin the process of transforming the mind and inputting truth. Make a recording for your child's listening.

Here are some components to the recording:

  1. It is in the child’s perspective. So, it will be in first person.
  2. It targets a particular struggle you have seen in your child.
  3. It gives the correct thinking and in some instances an action step they can take when they get in a particular bind.
  4. For daytime listening, we suggest the recording be no more than 3 to 5 minutes long. It can be played several times during the day but short three to five minute stints work better.
  5. For nighttime listening (while they are asleep) you can make the recording as long as you like. The important thing is that the recording be positive and uplifting.

A simple example may be: suppose your child is afraid of monsters under the bed (our oldest thought there was a monster in her closet!) Part of the recording could go something like this:
“My bedroom is safe and cozy. I love to get in my bed and pull the covers up under my chin. I close my eyes and everything is peaceful. I am safe. I am calm and fall right to sleep.”

This is a simple example for a somewhat simple problem. Our families have used this technique successfully to address more complex issues. What you are doing is simply replacing the untruth and false information floating around in their heads with the truth. This is renewal of the mind.

An example for a child who needs to have everything they do be perfect might go something like this:
"I like to work on my letters. I am good at writing letters. Sometimes I think they are not perfect but that is okay. My mommy loves me no matter what my letters look like. My daddy loves me no matter what my letters look like. (or whomever you want to put in there). When I write my letters sometimes I get frustrated when I don't think they look good. Next time I work on my letters, I will do my best and be happy with it. If I feel like I am getting frustrated, I will say to myself 'this is good enough for now. I will do some more later but this is good enough for now. I will move on to the next thing with a happy heart.’"

Spend some time observing your child/student and make note of their actions. Put those actions in the script so that it is real and individualized for them. With the good actions, praise them. With the not-so-good actions that you want to change around -- give a solution -- give a "what I can do about this" piece. Keep the script in first person as if the new thinking -- the new behavior has already happened.

Sometimes it is hard to come up with the scripts yourself because you are so close to the situation. If you would like help with drafting your scripts and other support as you raise or teach children, we invite you to

  • one-on-one coaching - schedule a complimentary Get Acquainted Call today.
  • take a class from our online classroom:
  • live teleclasses and in-person events.

Visual Charts

Making a simple-to-understand chart for our children is another very effective way to communicate the truth.  You can use photos of the child or other children to explain the information you want them to have.

It is our privilege to bring you practical everyday helps for raising and teaching the precious children in your life.

Keep in touch with us through our bi-monthly e-Zines for more tips and ideas in raising your children and teaching your students.

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Tom and Julie

Tom and Julie Meekins

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