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Perfectionism In Adolescent School Students

The procrastinators' club
Procrastination is a problem affecting all perfectionists. Many bright kids can become paralyzed perfectionists - they are so scared of getting it wrong, they can't get it fight. The response of some bright kids to perfectionism is to shy away from activities they believe they can't do well at. This can restrict their lives. Parents can help perfectionist bright kids by:

Perfectionism In Adolescent School Students
  • increasing spontaneity in the family. Taking the family on a picnic on the spur of the moment, or suddenly changing your mind and dragging the family to see a new movie, allows perfectionist bright kids to learn that the world is not a controllable place.
  • breaking down activities into subtasks. For example, rather than focusing on the score in a tennis match, emphasize how well your child served. This also increases awareness of how a particular skill is performed, rather than obsessing over the outcome of the game. Too much emphasis on outcomes increases anxiety and reduces performance.
  • encouraging continuous improvement. Set goats but focus on improvement. For instance, it took Einstein 20 attempts to property formulate his Special Theory of Relativity. Another good example of improvement is John Naber, who, at the 1972 Olympics, watched Mark Spitz win seven gold medals in swimming, one of which was in the 100-meter backstroke - Naber's own event. Naber envisioned himself winning gold in Montreal in 1976, and worked out that he would need to improve his time by four seconds to achieve this. He had four years to achieve his dream. Naber worked out that he had to improve one second per year. Since he swam twice a day, he only needed to improve by 1/730th of a second per workout. In 1976 he won gold. 
  • focusing on their personal best. Some bright kids will see their "best" in terms of results alone, but for many it may be best to focus on effort. 
Perfectionism and the different types of bright kids
This is an area where bright kids vary markedly from one another. Some become anxious and fretful when suffering from perfectionism, others become listless and defeated. Some common patterns are outlined here.
Manipulators can be so successful in engineering outcomes that they can come to believe they can control the world. They need to learn the world is not a controllable place, and the best way for this to happen is for parents to act in unexpectedly spontaneous ways.
These bright kids are the most likely to avoid anything they don't feel they are competent at. As they are so aware of the audience, helping them to try things out the first time, away from the gaze of peers, is helpful.
Introduce the "pizza theory of talents": just as many and varied slices make up a pizza, so all of us have different talents. Some might have one or two slices of talent, some might have more; Some might have only one slice of talent but it is strongly flavored. It's not about having more talents than anyone else, it's about what you do with the talents you have.

The social-justice instincts of these economic rationalists means they would like a perfect world. Help them to see that their marks at school are not measures of their personal selfworth. Turn their complaints into effective action.
Dare Devils
Break tasks down into mini-tasks and time-trials for Dare Devils. Use their level of focus on and application to these mini-tasks as the measure of success.

Passive Resisters
Don't allow them to opt out. Passive Resisters can decide that the best way to preserve their dignity is not to attempt anything, really. Having strong family expectations that they will engage in some activities such as sports, music, and hobbies helps them to stay connected and to flourish. To find out more, you can check out Perfectionism In Adolescent School Students.