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Perfectionism

Elementary School Expert Advice from Barbara Potts

Q: My five-year-old seems to be a perfectionist at times. If she is attempting something -- whether it's new or not -- and she doesn't get it just so the first time, she'll start all over again. If it is writing her letters, she will throw away the paper and get a completely new sheet. Is she setting too high a standard for herself? I don't want this to have a negative effect on her self-image.

A: Many young children tend to be perfectionists and it's difficult to watch them, especially when they get frustrated with themselves.

Try involving your daughter in some new activities, such as a soccer team or scouting group, where she may need to learn new things and may not be the best. Encourage her to try, but let her see that she can have a good time even if she can't kick the ball perfectly and that none of the other children can either.

Talk with her teacher and school counselor to get suggestions for other ways to let her try new things. Although perfectionists usually do well in school, it's a tough way to go through life.

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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


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