Dear Obsessive Mother’s Guide to Parenting,
My son is a perfectionist and I love it. He will erase and write again until his work is perfect, which obviously takes him longer than the other kids to do his work. The problem we have is an unsupportive classroom teacher. She won’t let him go out for recess because his work is not done yet. Now he’s getting to the point that he hates school. How can I get her to understand?
Sincerely,Steve from Houston
Bad news buddy, both of you are wrong. Let’s start with the main issue: COMMUNICATION. Parents, in your marriage and relationships you communicate your feelings to each other and care when the other is upset. You want others to care when you are upset, and yet when it comes to our children, we ignore their feelings and shut them down. WHY does he have to make everything perfect??? Who is he making it perfect for?
Your son needs to hear this: “You are WONDERFUL. You do EXCELLENT WORK. You are smart and creative and I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. Your first efforts are excellent. If you want to try again, you are welcome to, but your dad is very proud of this work right here.” Go out and buy your son a nice pen. Meet with him and the teacher and give him the special pen. It is his “Special First Work” pen. Explain to him that perfect work is nice, but meeting deadlines is important too. You will be very happy with the first work he does with this pen (there is no erasing and re-doing).
Note to all parents out there. We want our children to get from Point A to Point C with something: riding a bike, learning to read, anything….. Instead of talking to our children about POINT B, which will lead them to Point C, we criticize and dismiss. We yell and punish. We want them to magically get the concept that we are disappointed and figure out on their own how to make us happy again. That rarely works the way you want it to work. The child most often walks away with a bruised self-esteem and a distant, less-trusting relationship with their parent.
In EVERY discipline issue there are three steps:
1) Tell the child the behavior is unacceptable.
2) Tell the child how he/she can do that correctly.
3) Praise them when they show the correct behavior.
Example for your son:
1) Tell your child that perfection must balance in his life with time.
2) Give him and pen and as assignment, asking him to give you his first work.
3) Praise his first work and (his teacher needs to) allow him to play with his friends on the playground. Put that work proudly on the refrigerator and go play catch with him outside. If he would like to spend more time on the project after-school he is welcome to. Remember, he will be a husband and a father someday. He needs to understand the concept of Work-Life Balance now.
Here's another common example: The kids aren't sharing.
1) Tell them it is unacceptable to not share their toys.
2) Talk to them about the importance of the sharing. Ex: "If I have a toy and you have a toy and we share, we have two toys. If we do not share, we only have one toy." Talk to them about how siblings is the best present you've ever gotten from Mommy & Daddy cause now you always have a friend to play with. Ask them how we treat friends.
3) When you see the kids sharing, praise them! Offer a special treat, like a bowl of ice cream to celebrate how well they are getting along.
Thank you for your question Steve. I hope this sheds some light on the issue and brings you and your son closer together. If his behavior and school relationship does not improve, seek counseling. It could be a deeper issue. Communication is key. All the best as you continue on with your obsessive parenting!
The Obsessive Mother’s Guide to Parenting
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