The dan­gers of per­fec­tion

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - JEMMA RYAN

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.

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