“I know I won’t able to do that.” “I’m not even going to try.” “I always mess up on that.”
These kinds of phrases can be a punch in the gut for a parent to hear. Having perfectionist children can be challenging as we try to validate the fears and frustrations they are facing, all while supporting and encouraging them. These phrases that promote a growth mindset are excellent for responding to you little perfectionist to keep them trying and working through challenges.
I recall early Mommy & Me gymnastics with my own perfectionist child where my boy refused to try anything that he didn’t think he would be good at, and enjoy those activities which he excelled in. He left confident and satisfied each time. The day we finally took baby steps to get the courage to work through mistakes and failures on ‘those’ activities, were some of the proudest he has had yet.
Growth Mindset for Perfectionist Children
Growth mindset is a term coined by Carol Dweck, who studies perceptions about learning and intelligence. When people feel that their intelligence can change and grow, they perform better versus those who feel that their intelligence is fixed.RELATED RESOURCE: ACTION PLAN FOR HELPING KIDS MANAGE INTENSE EMOTIONS
Applying a growth mindset to education helps children succeed, work through their mistakes, and persevere. Encouraging a growth mindset in perfectionist children can be instrumental in helping them work through challenging problems and making mistakes.
Perfectionism in children is often a manifestation of anxiety and provides a space for control. Often these kids have a fear of failure, yet set such high expectations and standards of themselves. Making mistakes can be challenging for them to accept, but, as we know, nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.
A simple way that we as parents can help our perfectionist children is by pointing out our own mistakes or shortcomings. If we get the answer wrong to a question, admit it to your child and let them see you search for the right answer. They will see that everyone (even parents!) can make mistakes and try to fix them.
Additionally, recalling a story from your own childhood where you remember feeling frustrated or ready to give up on something but persevered or worked through are excellent to retell to your own kids. This helps them see that even you once struggled with how they are feeling and can empathize.
Phrases to Help Foster a Growth Mindset in Perfectionist Children
These phrases are great to use when you find your child in the midst of frustration over sports, homework, etc. to keep them developing a growth mindset, and work through it.
Mistakes make us try harder.
Getting it wrong helps us learn more about the right answer.
You feel really worried right now about this answer, that must be hard.
Mistakes give other people the chance to help us.
Even parents and teachers make mistakes.
Making mistakes help us learn persistence, which is important.
Trying again helps us learn patience.
Each time you try, you get a little better at that!
Hey, let’s celebrate the next mistake because that means we have a chance to grow!
I really liked how you kept trying when that was hard to do.
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I hope some of these phrases and tips can help you help your perfectionist child develop a growth mindset, and see that their own intelligence and learning is always growing, and that mistakes are often worth making!
*Photo Credit: frustrated girl, boy doing homework
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