Perfectionism Is Overrated
Perfectionism is the process of trying to do your best, and still being displeased with the result; it is not a final destination. The word comes from the Latin perfectus and means “finished” or “completed,” but it does not have to mean “impeccable.” That distinction is especially important for girls as they go through school. Too many girls latch on to the idea that whatever they do — from a social studies project to a term paper — has to be flawless. Often that quest for perfection preoccupies them to the exclusion of everything else. Or it can paralyze them and keep them from getting started on an assignment.
Therefore, teach your daughter that perfection in scholastic work is overrated. Nothing should ever be “faultless to a fault.” Inform her that you expect her to make good grades, but she should not obsess over each tiny percentile. That is why a range of numbers is assigned to each letter grade: for example, A ranges from 93 to 100, B ranges from 85 to 92, and so on. Explain that aiming for a grade range is a good thing. Tell her to do all her assignments as well as she can, and then put them out of her mind and go on.
The best way to lessen the importance of perfection for your daughter is to relax your own standards a little. This is a great time to examine your own behavior. Do you worry too much about every tiny detail at work or at home? If so, schedule a session with yourself about your obsession to be perfect — and let your daughter in on the process. Tell her to remind you when you stress out over trifles. As the old Chinese proverb says, “Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand.”
My daughter gets so stressed out. What can I do to help her?
Help her do a little work each day before the due date of a project, and get her excited about some other activities, such as some of the extracurricular activities at her school. They will provide a good balance for her.