Romit hated swimming. He would often offer a laundry list of elaborate excuses of why he doesn’t want to go swimming. It ranged from the sun was too hot to chlorine was hurting his eyes. The truth was, Romit was uncomfortable with swimming. It wasn’t that he was very bad at swimming. It was he didn’t excel immediately in it either. 

They Expect Instant Success

Bright or gifted children have been so used to doing things will minimal effort that they are quick to give up the moment they find an activity they struggle in. As they are not used to the uncomfortable feeling of winning at something, they have little tolerance for the process of developing skills. As most of them seem to be able to do it at first try, many of them scoff at the idea of a step-by-step plan to improve. If many of them are so used to instant gratification, they would be less willing to work for success next time.  

The issue with perfectionists is that they tend to have the idea that their intelligence is fixed and their performance displays their prowess. We call this the ‘fixed mindset‘. In contrast with children who believe their minds are always growing (growth mindset), perfectionists with fixed mindsets are less willing to try out new things or work harder to expand their abilities. In order to do so, we need to instil the virtue of ‘Delayed Gratification‘ in them.

Strategies to Help Them Be Less Afraid of Trying 

Perseverence is the key

Most of the time, bright and gifted children believe that their high ability should receive instant success. One way to open up their view is to read with them biographies of successful people such as Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein on how much they went through before they managed to achieve success. Your child must understand that success is never a straight line but one that goes around in circles.

Practise Deliberately 

How does one succeed in something? Scientists have found that most of the time, it takes one a minimum of ten years or ten thousand hours of deliberate practice to be really successful in something. Deliberate practice refers to focused and sustained efforts to learn something that’s beyond their current level of ability and understanding. It is tiring but useful as it means the individual must constantly concentrate, analyse and using feedback to eliminate weakness.

Make a Fool of Yourselves

Yes, you read that right. Perfectionists are extremely inflexible as they fear of looking like a fool. By doing something ridiculous together (it doesn’t have to be in public), the laughter it draws out from both parent and child can help to relax the perfectionist’s rigid standards.