Are you homeschooling a perfectionist this school year? Teaching a perfectionist can be one of the most frustrating things you will ever take on. In fact, I used to wonder if I would ever learn how to teach a perfectionist. I have shared some tips with you below to help you not only endure this adventure but thrive at it.
How To Teach A Perfectionist
I have always known R was a bit of a perfectionist. She has a way she likes things and she doesn’t like to settle for less than perfect. The picture above is what school has felt like as of late for us. She has just been so frustrated! We have been working thru the fact that she is not perfect and that’s ok.
I started noticing this last year. In her math, she had a sheet of problems she had to do every day to practice. She would get VERY upset. The very appearance of the page would put her in tears. She would tell me she couldn’t do it. She was convinced she would get it wrong. The funny thing is, every time she did it she would answer every single problem right.
This year the same page surfaced again except now there is a timer attached. She has 1 minute to do as much as she can and then she finishes the rest later. This has made it very clear to me how obsessed with perfect she really is. Because I now know what the problem is, and no it’s not that sheet, I can work with her on it.
We have worked hard on this and I am not going to lie, we are still working. However, I know how stressful it can be to teach a perfectionist so I figured I would share some tips to help you teach a perfectionist.
Being a perfectionist is hard. Your child is setting themselves up to fail every time because they set the bar too high. Encourage them. Tell your child he or she is smart. R does not believe this. While we are working on it she genuinely believes she is not smart because she is not perfect. Helping a child to know that even they aren’t perfect, they are valuable will help a lot! Let your child know MANY times during school that they are smart and they are loved.
Don’t try 20 approaches in a week. Pick one thing and stick with it. Every day for the last week we have started our Math Drill by saying, “R, are you perfect?” “No mom.” “Do you have to be perfect?” “No Mom.” “What do I want from you?” “My best work”
I will go on to tell her that as long as she is giving me her best work she will do well.
Ditch the Grades
We grade only our tests. Everything else is not graded. This takes away the need to fight for a grade. For a perfectionist, the grade is the ultimate reward. Removing it from daily life makes it easier for them to focus on the task at hand.
Expect Hard Days
Your child will get frustrated. Plan on it. Talk with your child about ways to handle their frustration. This is an area we are working on. Whether it is clenching their fist or taking deep breaths help your child to learn how to process that frustration.
Accept The Possibility of an underlying problem.
Sometimes perfectionism is a mask to cover a deeper issue. It is control where there is another area in their life that has no control. Be open to having your child tested for learning disabilities or emotional issues that need to be addressed. You are not a bad mom or less of a parent if your child has a learning disability. However, knowing that your child sees words on a page differently than you or processes language differently than you can help you to teach them better. (We are actually going for testing to be sure R doesn’t have any delays.) *Update – We actually found out that while R is a perfectionist she is also dyslexic and dysgraphic. This has contributed to some of her frustration.
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