It was Linda’s turn to perform her poetry piece in front of the crowd. After her initial stumble over a word,she gave the finest performance of her life. Yet after she left the stage,she was so focused on her error that she failed to hear the tremendous applause given by the audience. To her, that stumble meant utter humiliation to her and that was all that mattered.

When They Magnify their own Mistakes

Linda knows that people make mistakes but that doesn’t matter to her. Somehow,the idea of her making a mistake is as serious as committing a crime. Even if the mistake is minor which others would shrug off or not even notice, she would imagine them laughing at her about it. This makes her want to withdraw from society just to brood over it as to her, this minor mistake may actually destroys all future opportunities for success.

A View from Another Angle

No matter how bright or capable they seem, children are still children. They lack years of experience or understand how things work out in shades of gray in society. Many assume that scoring good grades will secure them a fine future and fail to realise that true success comes from adaptability, effective communication and getting along with people. These children forget that they are constantly growing, learning and developing.

Strategies to Help Them Cope

Help them to Voice their Feelings

One way to help them mange their feelings is to put their thoughts into words before shifting them to a less extreme direction. Instead of jumping in to assure them, restate their words with descriptive words instead. For example, if they mention things like “I’m no good!” Or “My life is over!”, resist jumping in to reassure them as they are not calm enough to rationalise it. Rather, acknowledge their feelings such as “You’re disappointed.” Or “You’ll worried about how they’ll react.” This strategy helps the child to reflect and calm them down.

Resist the Temptation to Offer Pointers

Your children actually listen better to their teachers and coaches when it comes to feedback. While parents are very willing to share wisdom with their children, chronic parental criticism is linked to anxiety, depression and poor school outcomes. Children may feel that they are not able to live up to their parents’ expectations and feel worthless. If your child asks for feedback, answer with an interested but noncommittal “hmm” or ask them which part of the process they enjoy. Encourage them by telling them how much you enjoy watching them putting in effort into their learning.

Identify What Went Right

Perfectionistic children can be very extreme: it is either right or wrong. Help your child identify things that they have done right might be a good start to help them observe qualities that they are already successful in. You can be specific about the qualities. For example, you can praise their accurate spelling or intriguing word choice when reading their essays. This can take their mind off their perceived negative self-evaluation for a while.