She sat at the table, head in her hands, with tears streaming silently down her cheeks. "I just can't get it!!" she moaned, concerning the math problems staring her down from the page before her.
Earlier this week she was frustrated that her hair wouldn't stay in the perfect spot when she had her bike helmet on to go ride her scooter outside.
Granted, perfectionism is a personality trait that varies greatly from person to person, but in this day of Pinterest and viral posts and, well, Pinterest, its difficult to fight the pressure to be perfect in all things.
I see this in all three of my kiddos, not just my textbook-type-A-firstborn. Even my four year old son is reduced to tears when his drawing isn't exactly like the one in the book.
And while I am all for putting our best foot forward, and not setting for less than our best potential, I think we can do a lot to help release the tremendous pressure for perfection facing our kids today.
1. Focus on the effort, not just the result.
Whether your child has come home with a straight A report card, or is distraught because her art project just won't turn out right, praise her effort. Recognize how hard she has worked. Help her see that she should be proud of herself for persevering and not giving up when things got tough. Recognize how disappointing it can be when things don't quite turn out how we envisioned in our heads, but encourage her that lessons learned in the process are what shape her and help her to grow. This also helps to guard against the child finding his value/identity in the constant positive (or negative) outcomes of his various endeavors.