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    #145464 - 01/04/13 01:22 PM Is it perfectionism??
    petunia Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/17/11
    Posts: 146
    I'm trying to figure this out. My son (11) loves to play games. He honestly doesn't care much about winning; he plays for the fun of it. He doesn't seem very much a perfectionist when it comes to schoolwork - most of it is sloppy and bare minimum. His SS teacher is constantly writing "elaborate", "explain", "more detail" on his papers. He enjoys playing baseball but won't practice; same with music and karate. He puts no effort into boy scouts but just goes to the meetings and activities and has fun. So all these things seem to point away from perfectionism. Seems like he'd work hard on it if he were seeking perfection??

    However, there are things that might be perfectionistic. When my parents were here over the holidays, they asked him to play piano and horn for them. He played one song on the piano and did well but then goofed up the next two he tried. My mom said "just play with the music" and so he tried that and messed up and just gave up. Same with his horn. Now I'm wondering if maybe this aversion to practicing has something to do with being a perfectionsist?? My husband thinks sometimes that son doesn't want to put any work into anything because he's afraid of succeeding. But, he does these piano recitals and ensemble groups and says he loves them and does well. He gets so upset when he gets in trouble or when he's not doing what he's supposed to be doing, maybe he thinks his behavior should be perfect? Is that why he says "I'm stupid"? His piano teacher pointed out that although he seems to show a lot of confidence when playing the piano for a group, he obviously lost that when playing for his grandparents. She thinks he puts too much pressure on himself.

    One math teacher pointed out that when he makes a mistake in math, he'll drop his head and berate himself.

    Anybody have a simple way to tell if it is perfectionism? Am I missing something that's right in front of my eyes?

    Oh, and he loves to read but he seems to read the same things over and over again. He seems to have trouble picking out new books. Almost like he's afraid to try something new. But, for example, at baseball, the coach asked for a volunteer to do something and son volunteered for it not having any idea what the activity was going to be. So, he wasn't afraid to try something new there. I'm so confused!


    Edited by petunia (01/04/13 01:38 PM)
    Edit Reason: added paragraph
    _________________________
    What I am is good enough, if I would only be it openly. ~Carl Rogers

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    #145467 - 01/04/13 01:49 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: petunia]
    CCN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/25/12
    Posts: 978
    Loc: BC, Canada
    Originally Posted By: petunia
    I'm trying to figure this out. My son (11) loves to play games. He honestly doesn't care much about winning; he plays for the fun of it. He doesn't seem very much a perfectionist when it comes to schoolwork - most of it is sloppy and bare minimum. His SS teacher is constantly writing "elaborate", "explain", "more detail" on his papers. He enjoys playing baseball but won't practice; same with music and karate. He puts no effort into boy scouts but just goes to the meetings and activities and has fun. So all these things seem to point away from perfectionism. Seems like he'd work hard on it if he were seeking perfection??



    Meanwhile I'm thinking this screams perfectionism because lack of effort or apparent lack of interest is a protective mechanism against fear of failure.



    Edited by CCN (01/04/13 01:58 PM)

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    #145468 - 01/04/13 01:54 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: petunia]
    CCN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/25/12
    Posts: 978
    Loc: BC, Canada
    Originally Posted By: petunia


    Oh, and he loves to read but he seems to read the same things over and over again. He seems to have trouble picking out new books. Almost like he's afraid to try something new. But, for example, at baseball, the coach asked for a volunteer to do something and son volunteered for it not having any idea what the activity was going to be. So, he wasn't afraid to try something new there. I'm so confused!


    This could be the fact that if he chooses the book, it'll be he who has failed if it's a poor choice, whereas when he is volunteering, he is receiving instructions from someone else so that person can be the one responsible if something goes wrong. ie, "well if he hadn't asked me to do that, it never would have gotten messed up."

    Perfectionism is insidious...

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    #145469 - 01/04/13 01:57 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: petunia]
    Dude Offline
    Member

    Registered: 10/04/11
    Posts: 2856
    The schoolwork thing does seem to be a problem, but not related to perfectionism. It sounds like he's not putting in any effort because he's not engaged, because it's far too easy. That may be the case in baseball or scouting, too, though it may also be that those activities contain too much routine.

    This condition can lead to perfectionist tendencies in other areas.

    Perfectionism doesn't have to manifest itself in all activities. It can just show up in the ones in which your DS thinks he should be perfect at. Like music. And math.

    There's a whole different kind of pressure involved in performing by yourself versus in a group, and for family members versus strangers. I've known several performers who hated having their friends and family see their shows.

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    #145473 - 01/04/13 02:03 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: petunia]
    ColinsMum Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/19/08
    Posts: 1898
    Loc: Scotland
    'Perfectionism' is one of those terms with a slippery definition - what does it mean to you, and what difference will it make whether this is or isn't?
    _________________________
    Email: my username, followed by 2, at google's mail

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    #145474 - 01/04/13 02:48 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: petunia]
    BonusMom Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/06/09
    Posts: 151
    Loc: IL
    You have described my son, also 11, very well - even down to the reading choices. Unfortunately, I have no advice to give; but I am especially nodding along with CCN's comments. I'll be watching this thread!

    If nothing else, know that you are not alone. smile

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    #145478 - 01/04/13 03:40 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: petunia]
    Sweetie Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/05/11
    Posts: 669
    For reading I found reading to him at night and audio books helps with book selection and getting out of book slumps. If my son keeps reading a certain book over and over again or a certain type book over again for his own reading, fine. But our night time read aloud I generally find a few selections (that he then chooses from, or sometimes I just declare it is my choice).

    And every once in a while I have no problem saying...you know this book is a hard one to get through. It sounded good but I am wondering how you feel. And then we select another book or finish depending on our discussion. And he knows that is okay and not the end of the world if you selected a book that wasn't a perfect fit.

    We also talk about book selections as I select books for myself. And read the inside flaps and make choices for him. He isn't really good at making selections off the shelf just yet (he goes more by word of mouth/suggestions from others) but I am laying the foundation.
    _________________________
    ...reading is pleasure, not just something teachers make you do in school.~B. Cleary

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    #145509 - 01/05/13 09:03 AM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: ColinsMum]
    petunia Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/17/11
    Posts: 146
    Originally Posted By: ColinsMum
    'Perfectionism' is one of those terms with a slippery definition - what does it mean to you, and what difference will it make whether this is or isn't?


    I was reading another thread on "how much to push" or something and sort of had an 'AHA' moment. Maybe it's not that he's not motivated, but that he's scared of not being perfect. I think you approach those things as a parent in different ways. I'm not sure yet how.

    I've really never thought of him as a perfectionist. My view of perfectionism is not sloppy, ill-done work, but work with lots of effort and done correctly and neatly and in an organized way. I guess that's the way MY perfectionism works. I never considered sloppiness as "wanting to be perfect".

    Maybe realizing this means backing off on some things and offering more support instead of trying to motivate. I'm not sure. I'll have to do some real thinking about this. Meanwhile, I'm all ears for suggestions.

    Thanks.
    _________________________
    What I am is good enough, if I would only be it openly. ~Carl Rogers

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    #145520 - 01/05/13 02:29 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: petunia]
    CCN Offline
    Member

    Registered: 06/25/12
    Posts: 978
    Loc: BC, Canada
    It's interesting, without a doubt, how it affects different people in different ways (and Dude could be right that your son is simply under challenged in school and bored. DD10 and myself are really plagued by perfectionism, and my DS8 is showing signs as well, so I tend to see it in a lot of behaviours). However... sloppiness (i.e. "don't care") is one of DD10's and my manifestations.

    Hmmm. Trying to think of an example. My DD has probably the worst handwriting in her class. If you push her to do a good copy of something, it's tears, tantrums and lots of erasing. There is nothing wrong with her hands or her written output (in fact, she loves to draw and is very good at pencil sketching).

    Her writing (composition) is bare minimum. If you ask her for a complete sentence she'll write something like "I sat." Her teacher is constantly saying she needs to exert more effort. Interestingly, she's a math kid in a language program with language gifted kids in her class, so there's stiff competition. Net result: she's not even going to try.

    (Perfectionist thinking: "Oh well, if I had tried, I could have done the best in the class.")

    She is also very, very musical. She composes her own songs and arrangements of existing songs on the piano. She won't play other people's sheet music (because it's obvious if she makes a mistake), but will play her own version (because no one will know if there's a mistake). Btw, getting her to practice is like PULLING TEETH.

    Her room is A MESS. (This is more of an OCD/hoarder thing, but perfectionism & OCD sometimes overlap).

    Re: games... When DS was 6 he used to put his king in your path if he felt he couldn't beat you at chess. He'd shrug and say "I don't care" but you could see the point where the game would turn out of his favor, and then he'd "dive" his king and want to start a new game.

    (I have tons of similar examples for them but this post would be novel-length).

    For myself, in school, it was last minute assignments (among other things). If I had started an essay the day it was assigned, the compulsion to make it perfect would have been so overwhelming that I simply couldn't have done anything. Instead I wrote all my essays the night before they were due.

    (Perfectionist thinking: "I didn't have enough time. If I had started earlier when everyone else did, it would have been perfect.")

    You get the idea... the examples aren't perfect (omg, can't believe I typed that, LOL) but they show that sometimes a drive for perfections yields the exact opposite.

    Not sure if that helps. What to do? Not sure. I've written in other posts about how my DD has been helped by being pushed out of her comfort zone (i.e. so that she can't be perfect and has to learn to deal with it). It's definitely helped.

    DS is the mildest of the three of us, and interestingly enough he's constantly challenged at school with his "Es".

    For myself, I try little things like throwing something in the trash that should go in recycling. (LOL I'm cringing just typing that). Environmentalists take heart and know that I don't do this often wink

    Petunia how challenged is your son at school? Is he accelerated?




    Edited by CCN (01/06/13 06:42 AM)

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    #145542 - 01/05/13 09:30 PM Re: Is it perfectionism?? [Re: CCN]
    HowlerKarma Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/05/11
    Posts: 5181
    Whoahhhhh.

    How did you get all that footage from inside my own head as a child, anyway??

    (Perfectionist thinking: "Oh well, if I had tried, I could have done the best in the class.")

    (Perfectionist thinking: "I didn't have enough time. If I had started earlier when everyone else did, it would have been perfect.")

    And oh, HOLY cow, my first year as a SAHM, um... I had nothing but 'enough time' relative to the full-time-and-then-some workload I'd been shouldering WITH the same household stuff.

    KWIM?

    NOT. HEALTHY.

    My husband finally was able to see that yes, in fact, I just MIGHT be a perfectionist with some serious OCD issues if this went unchecked.

    I think it was when I cleaned out the spice cupboard twice a month, wiped down all of the doors, moldings, and touch surfaces twice a week, washed ALL of the bedding twice a week in hot water... started scrubbing things with toothbrushes, and still made everything from scratch. No, I really mean everything. Even flour, for a while.

    He was becoming just a touch concerned about me. I had to work part time. I was clearly not well just being in the house.
    _________________________
    Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.

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