The Perfect Trap
A perfectionist considers anything less than perfect to be a failure. Make a mistake? Never! The drive to be perfect can stymie students in a few different ways:
- It can lead to chronic procrastination. In a perfectionist’s mind, if it’s not going to be perfect, it’s not even worth starting.
- It can lead to endless hours of time on task with their homework. They don’t know when to say it’s “good enough” and move on.
Here are a few ways you can help:
- Let your child know that mistakes are expected and an important part of learning.
- Set realistic and attainable short-term goals and break down assignments into manageable pieces to help your student get started. Best selling author Seth Godin summed it up succinctly in a blog post: Waiting for perfect means not starting.
- Use timers for homework and work in short bursts. Setting a 20-minute timer, for example, sets an end time which makes it easier to start (because a finish is in sight!). It also gives your child a time frame in which to get work completed so they don’t get bogged down and can move on to the next assignment on their agenda.
- Make sure your child reads the directions or the rubric so they have parameters. This will help your child understand reasonable expectations for the assignment and help them identify a place to stop.