The dangers of perfection
PARENTS and teachers will be given tools to help identify when a child’s pursuit for success becomes a crippling compulsion for perfection at an educational forum in Geelong next week.
The event, hosted by the Children of High Intellectual Potential (CHIP) Centre Geelong, will provide insight into what drives perfectionism, how it presents and what can be done to ensure it doesn’t become inhibiting.
Geelong mum Meg Branson has witnessed the impact high personal standards has had on her now seven-year-old daughter’s wellbeing.
“My daughter would refuse to write the letter K because she couldn’t write it neat enough. She would go as far as to avoid words with the letter K in them,” she said.
“We would constantly find screwed up paper around the house.”
Perfectionism is a characteristic quite common in gifted children, classified as those who have an IQ two grades above average. It can contribute to stress, anxiety and high levels of self criticism, which can negatively influence selfworth and self-esteem.
“They often have perfectionist tendances and a fear of failure. They don’t want to try new things because they fear they won't do it well enough by their own standards … it can be quite debilitating,” Ms Branson said.
Ms Branson, also an assistant manager at CHIP Geelong with a masters degree in gifted education, said she had been able to help her daughter by showcasing her own mistakes.
“We would model a lot of mistakes that we would make to show that the sky doesn’t fall in when we make mistakes,” she said.
Ms Branson hopes local educators will attend next week’s forum.
“Graduate teachers, through no fault of their own, have very little to no knowledge of giftedness and how to support and extend those students,” she said.
“High potential kids can be anywhere from 2-10 per cent of the population, so most teachers would have at least one high potential child in their class.
“It is a special need but that is not really recognised … Intelligence isn’t really celebrated by our society like music and sport is.”
Psychologist Natalie Kyan — who works with the Australian Ballet School and Australian National Academy of Music — will be the guest speaker at the Geelong forum to be held at Kardinia International College from 7-8.30pm on Tuesday. Tickets available via eventbrite.