Join author Jill Savage and myself as we discuss the ten dangers of the perfection infection and four antidotes.
Jill defines “perfection infection” as when we unfairly compare ourselves to others and have unrealistic expectations of our lives. When we feel like we are not measuring up or our struggles aren’t normal, this can invade our parenting.
We talk about the difference from encouraging our kids to do their best and embracing excellence.
Jill encourages us to think about lense of your own childhood and your own child’s as we consider the 10 Dangers of Perfection Infection including
- Children won’t ask for help because they think they don’t need it. I loved the acronym: FOLS – Fear Of Looking Stupid. I think this is a common struggle for not only kids but also adults. Jill encourages parents of kids who are naturally perfectionistic to encourage effort far more than results
- Children will resist trying new things.
- Children who don’t make mistakes won’t develop resiliency. Jill reminds us failure is unavoidable and if they play always play it safe, they won’t easily bounce back. I love the quote from Dr Kevin Lehman “When a kid spills milk, they don’t need a lecture, they need a rage.” It’s such a temptation to lecture our kids when they make mistakes instead of allowing them to clean up their own messes.
- Children will relate to parents from a perspective of fear. Jill warns us this occurs when parents get angry when kids fail.
- Children may develop a negative and critical perspective towards themselves and others. She also cautions us to examine what we are affirming or criticizing. I know as a counselor I often work with clients who have a critical internal voice that holds them back from taking risks and the freedom to live life fully and those clients often share that that critical voice often sounds like the parent in their lives whom they felt they could never please.
- Children may expect perfectionism from other even though they don’t like trying to meet the expectation themselves. It important for us to help our kids approach others with grace when they are disappointed.
- Children will focus primarily on what they cannot do, rather than what they can do. We need to help them focus on their strengths and also understand that excellence takes time and intentional investment of focus and energy. I see this in my own life and my kids as we live in a culture where we expect to be experts immediately and things we want to manifest immediately.
- Children expected to be perfect may hesitate to won and believe in their successes because of stress. Underperformance is huge issue in the academic culture especially when it comes to test anxiety. When we work with kids in our counseling offices, we often have to help them set realistic expectations of testing so their brains will work and they can access the information they need and perform the tasks required. Jill and I also discuss that some kids put this stress on themselves even when parents assure them that their best is good enough.
- Children will no believe in or experience the beauty of unconditional love. Whether it’s a school paper, a performance on a sports field or some other activity, I try regularly to evaluate what message is my child receiving from the myself and the other adults teaching and coaching them. I recently share on a Facebook post (link) how happy I was hear to hear my son’s soccer coach ask the team, “Are we doing our best? Are we having fun?” and assuring them that’s all that matters. Sometimes when I hear shouts of “you can do better” and “what is wrong with you today,” I wonder about the messages being received by often children as young as seven.
- Being raised with perfection as a goal can negatively influence children’s spiritual growth and how they relate to the God of the Bible.
Jill mainly focuses on the first 5 dangers and then goes on to share 4 antidotes for perfection infection that spell CLAP.
Compassion – Jill shares how she had to work at avoiding “buck up parenting” She describes this as a mentality of ignoring feelings, disregarding their feelings, and creating an environment of hidden emotions. She encourages us to avoid as our first reaction to our kid’s emotional displays or cries to help to fix or minimize. Jill continues that we can model God’s unconditional love best when our kids are behaving badly.
Acceptance – Showing acceptance doesn’t mean agreeing with every emotional reaction. It indicates you are connected to their reality and struggles
Jill shares and example of a 10 year old sleeping with blankie. We continue by discussing kids with sensory issues who often have habits that don’t make sense to their parents.
Perception – In our busy culture, it’s tempting to parent the herd vs seeing each individual child with his or her own unique needs, gifts and talents. Jill encourages us to tune in towards the inside of what’s going on with that child. She also gives permission for us to follow the lead of the parent who is more gifted with mercy and discernment if this is not our forte.
We always end the show with a scripture and Jill shares Phil 4: 13. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (NIV)
He can give us strength to help our kids through homework and report cards and us as parents as we attempt to train and encourage them.
Jill prays for us to quit worrying about what people are thinking and let go of being controlling parents so we can truly celebrate our kids progress as they grow in this world in lieu of simply their performance.