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Little miss perfect Lock Rss

Hi it's been a while but I was after some non biased advice please.

My DD is five and started reception (first year of schooling in SA) this year. At the end of term 1 we had her end of term parent teacher interview and was told she is extremely advanced and is top of her class in reading ability plus the only student doing basic addition and subtraction and learning her 1 and 2 times tables and it was suggested we get her tested for the gifted child's test......so basically she's doing well and isn't struggling (I didn't get her tested, half because I'm not sure what difference doing that test will make and secondly due to her perfection problem)

Soooo anyway, what I want advice on is she is a severe perfectionist. She can't make a mistake and if she does she'll rip it up and start again, even if it's something as minor as coloring in out the lines. She has always been like this and by age 3 could spell her full name without copying or any help because she done it so much and kept doing it cos she was getting panicky for not knowing how to spell something she should always know how to spell (yep that was at age 3, alarm bells shoulda rang louder then)

Last week the night before her class assembly she got herself so panicked that it was well after midnight that I finally got her to sleep because she was having an anxiety attack that she wouldn't remember her lines that she had to say at the assembly.

Now tonight we've had another anxiety attack because in class today they learnt the last of their jolly phonics sounds and she was seriously stressing that she won't remember them all and will forget them now they've finished learning them in class.

I spoke with her teacher on the morning of the class assembly and told her she was up till after midnight stressing about her lines and about her fear of making mistakes and getting answers wrong and she said that it was cute and then reassured DD that she would be fine.

Her teacher is great and she herself commented how DD will start again if she makes a mistake so I was wondering done suggestions on what I could say to her to get a more serious reply and some help getting it under control.

God help me when she is in year 12! Every night after doing her fight words she gives me her words list so I can try 'trick'her all night and ask her what certain words are at random times

I wont be back online tonight but will check replies tomorrow night or Wednesday night but thank you to all for reading that novel and for any advice about how to tackle the situation before she becomes her own worse enemy

That's a tough one. Poor little thing, being so hard on herself. If you can't help her on your own a psychologist could be loads of help!
My almost 6yo DS1 has some similar perfectionist traits to your DD, however not as severe. He has started school this year and the teacher was finding that if he made a mistake with his writing, he wanted to start the whole thing again.

The teacher is constantly reminding DS that if he always throws out his mistakes, he will never see how far he has come / progressed in his writing. So far it is working.

We are also booking in DS to see the school therapist / psychologist (also to help deal with some home issues). Does your DD's school have any similar opportunities?



This one really interested me. I am a primary school teacher and like questions like this!

I think this is something that you are right to nip in the bud now. Lots of kids snap out of things like this on their own but you would know better than anyone what it might take. Child psychologists can often be fantastic, and a great learning tool for kids (who often don't associate stigmas with it like adults, so just get on with the job of getting something out of it).

I don't think her teacher should have dismissed it or called it "cute". It might be something that you need to talk to the teacher one-on-one about.

The (beautiful) problem with gifted children is that when they aren't coping, their performance can often still be amazing in class! But for her to be stressed like this, it means she isn't coping with the environment and her self-perception and outlook is pessimistic. In time, the problem can escalate to be not just a perfectionism problem, but a fear of failure, which can lead to disengagement or a 'I'm not even going to try' approach as a gifted teen.

There will be times when a perfectionist approach will also not be the best approach in class (ie creative writing and art).

I would get in touch with the Gifted and Talented Association and ask their advice, even if you don't get her tested. Most states have an association, with a good online presence, and you can often join up or access articles for free. Just google it and you will see quite a few options. Some of them deal with this specific problem. You could also ask them about the benefits of having her tested. Most of the parents I know who have done it and then joined the association have found it to be a fantastic resource - for them and their child, in the same way a parent of ie a dyslexic child benefits from knowing and then managing the situation.

Unfortunately parents of G&T kids are often judged for wanting to help their little ones out ("what are you complaining about, your kid is doing great!"), but you are doing the right thing - it's the same as a parent of a struggling child seeking advice on perceived failure. In the short term I would:

-Praise effort rather than finished products "I like the way you are thinking about this problem". "Oh, look at such and such's work. It's so beautiful, I can tell he tried hard" If she says "but it's messy" tell her there are lots of things that are messy that are wonderful!
-Engage in some weekend activities where she feels comfortable not being a perfectionist and focus on how fun it is.
-Be confident about your own imperfections, and let her know that you're fine with some things not being perfect
That's something I used to do! All I can say is thank god for computers! as it used to drive me crazy having to rewrite things - and yet I had this weird compulsion to do it. I have snapped out of it, but from time to time I still do it. It tends to be when I'm doing a course/degree and preparing for exams or writing an assignment - so when I'm stressed. What I find helps is typing notes rather than writing them, and taking frequent breaks - involving some kind of physical activity.
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