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Eight-year-old wants to be perfect

Question:

My 8-year-old daughter wants to be the best at what she does. If she doesn’t do something perfectly related to school or sports, she does not want to continue to try and often ends up crying. Even after achieving straight As in school, she has dramatic breakdowns over homework and worries that she will fail.

 

Answer:

One way to help children recognize that their efforts are just as important as accomplishments is to praise their efforts. Praise her when she is willing to try something new, and praise even baby steps toward her goals. This recognition and praise regarding her willingness to try build her self-esteem and pride.

Focus on trying rather than accomplishing. To begin with, stay away from serious pursuits such as academics. Help her to laugh at herself and you by modeling how fun it is to try new things even if you “goof” and don’t accomplish the task. 

Reinforce that “doing her best is doing all she can do.” Play Follow the Leader, increasing the difficulty of the activities you do. Asking family members to join in increases the fun. 

Have her record all of the new things she has tried in a journal. She will see her efforts and be proud of herself. Also, share stories of the first time you tried something new. Be sure to include your failures as well as your successes.

 

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