How Parents Can Help Their Gifted Child Be Less Perfectionistic and More Realistic

For more than 25 years I have spoken with parents of gifted children about ways to deal with their son’s or daughter’s perfectionism. I can safely say that perfectionism and its manifestations, which include temper tantrums and unrealistic fears, are common and also very problematic for both the parent and the child. Getting a grip on how to manage the symptoms of perfectionism is critical to your child’s social and emotional development and ability to thrive intellectually. Here are some suggestions that I write about in more detail in my book, “Raising Gifted Kids: Everything You Need to Know to Help Your Exceptional Child Thrive.”
1. Perfectionism breeds perfectionism, so stop trying so hard to be a perfect parent. Being a “good enough” parent who is realistic about your parenting goals and parenting style will help your child relax and accept that you are not perfect and that he or she is not perfect. Being a “good enough” parent is the most effective way to raise a gifted child.
2. Find your own voice of reason and use it. Parents today can become over-involved and over-invested in their children and forget to be realistic and forget to set limits for their children and limits for what they will do for their children. Over-doing for your child can hamper their resilience later in life and keep them from wanting to try new adventures.
3. Empathize with your child’s unhappiness and resistance but do not give in to their unrealistic demands, as this will surely intensify their perfectionism, temper tantrums, and fears. And you will be totally frustrated when you give in all of the time.
4. Have your own life to enjoy, develop, and worry about it. It will help you keep your child’s perfectionism in check and provide a role model as well.
5. Embrace your mistakes and your child’s mistakes as learning tools that happen to all of us some of the time.