Parents can help kids avoid the dark side of perfection
BY MICHAEL OVERALL World Staff Writer
Monday, November 12, 2012
11/12/12 at 6:35 AM
Because I Said So is a blog written by six parents and one grandparent.
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My 4-year-old wanted Indian food last weekend, which proves that he got his mother's sophisticated palate.
But he cried when the lamb korma came served on top of the rice, showing that he got his father's annoying habit of obsessing over trivial details.
"I don't like my food to touch," he says.
I wouldn't call either one of us a "perfectionist." Both of our bedrooms are too messy for that.
But my son and I do want certain things to go a certain way.
He has to brush his teeth right-to-left, bottom to top.
I always put my jacket on right-sleeve first. Always.
I noticed him the other day turning his sippy cups in the kitchen cabinet to make all the cartoon pictures face the front.
I do the same thing with coffee mugs.
Maybe it's genetic.
At Michigan State University, researchers tracked nearly 300 twin siblings, some identical and some fraternal.
The identical twins, sharing 100 percent of their DNA, were more likely to show the same level of "perfectionist" tendencies in their personalities.
The fraternal twins, on the other hand, often had different levels of perfectionism, even when raised in the same house.
Perfectionism, researchers concluded, "appears to be greatly due to genetic risk factors," according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.
But it's only a predisposition, not a matter of destiny.
Parents can help children avoid the darker side of a perfectionist personality, suffering anxiety and distress over minor flaws in daily life.
One method involves gradually building up a tolerance for imperfections.
Don't start with korma on top of rice. But maybe let some peas get mixed up in mash potatoes, just a little.
If that goes well, you can try letting one or two sippy cups point the wrong direction. As dreadful as that sounds.
To read more about the research, tulsaworld.com/becauseisaidso
Michael Overall 918-581-8383