Recognising the difference between constructive effort and perfectionism is essential if you want to put down the shield and take your life back. According to research, perfectionism hinders success. In reality, it frequently leads to life paralysis, a combination of addiction, sadness, and anxiety.
It’s therefore essential to let go of the desire that your kids be perfect in STEM education, robotics for kids and coding for kids.
We lose possibilities because we’re unwilling to let something into the world that might be flawed. As a result of our intense fear of failing, making errors, and disappointing others, it also includes all of the dreams that we don’t pursue.
The STEM field is about experimenting and tinkering. However, if you raise your kids to be perfectionists, you are taking a chance on your self-worth, which can become very daunting.
Dispelling Myths Around Perfectionism
Before we know what perfectionism is, let’s dispel some of the myths you might have encountered about perfectionism. It is essential to create a description of perfectionism that fully reflects what it stands for, and how it affects our lives.
Here are two common myths that you should know so that you don’t push the misrepresented idea of perfection onto your kid when it comes to problem solving and STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
1. Striving to be your best is not the same as perfectionism. Perfectionism is not about product performance and development. The idea of perfectionism holds that the agony of blame, criticism, and shame can be lessened or avoided if we live a perfect life and appear and behave perfectly. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we carry around in the hopes that it will shield us, but it’s actually what’s holding us back from flying.
2. Self-improvement is not perfectionism. At its foundation, perfectionism is about seeking acceptance and approval. Most people who strive for perfection are encouraged to succeed and perform well as children (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). We acquire this harmful and crippling belief system along the way: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Please. Perform Perfect. Healthy striving is inward-looking. How can I get better? Perfectionism is a people-centred trait—what will they think?
What Chasing Perfection Entails
Now that you are aware of the myths that surround the idea of perfection, understand what aiming for perfection entails:
It can fuel a compulsive belief in your kid that: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can escape or lessen the terrible feelings of humiliation, criticism, and blame.
Perfectionism is an impossible ideal. It is more concerned with perception about wanting to appear perfect. There is no such thing as perfection makes perfectionism detrimental to your kid. No matter how much time and effort we put into it, perception cannot be controlled.
Striving for perfectionism can make your kid frequently think they aren’t good enough due to experiencing guilt, blame, and criticism. Therefore, instead of challenging the fallacious justification for perfectionism, they solidify their commitment to trying to live, look, and act perfectly.
Being embarrassed, condemned, and held accountable (as well as fearing these emotions) are everyday human experiences. The likelihood that your kid will feel these unpleasant feelings increases with perfectionism, which frequently results in self-blame.
To overcome perfectionism, we must recognise our kids’ susceptibility to the familiar feelings of guilt, condemnation, and blame, cultivate shame resilience, and engage in self-compassion exercises.
Your kids will embrace their flaws when they learn to be more loving and compassionate toward themselves and start to exercise shame resilience. They will discover their genuine gifts—courage, compassion, and connection—when they start accepting their flaws.
Practising Self Compassion
The idea of self-compassion is essential to embracing imperfection and living authentically.
There are three elements to self-compassion:
Self-Kindness: Being kind and compassionate with ourselves when we struggle, fail, or feel unworthy as opposed to ignoring our suffering or torturing ourselves with self-criticism.
Common Humanity: Common humanity understands that sorrow and self-doubt are aspects of the universal human experience—rather than something that only affects “me” personally.
Mindfulness: It involves addressing negative emotions in a balanced way to prevent either suppression or exaggeration of sentiments. Practising mindfulness is vital so we don’t “over-identify” with negative feelings and thoughts that can sweep us away. We cannot dismiss our suffering while also having sympathy for it.
Striving towards perfectionism can easily result in a lack of self-acceptance and self-criticism in your kids. It’s important to remember that perfectionism never takes place in isolation. Everyone around is affected.
If you pass perfectionism on to your kid, it suffocates them and infects their learning environment with unrealistic expectations. Fortunately, kindness also travels swiftly.
Teaching kids to be kind to themselves builds a reservoir of empathy we can use to help others. By observing us, our children pick up on the importance of self-compassion, and those around us are free to be genuine and connected.