So many parents and carers seem to have the perfectionist mindset.
What I mean by that is, they expect kids to get things right the first time, or even the fifth time. If that doesn’t happen, they may believe there is something wrong with the child or themselves.
The attitude of “have to get it 100% right (or I am a bad parent)” is the enemy of positive parenting.
Chances are, the parent running the perfectionist strategy is thinking about all the things that could go wrong, if they don’t get things “right” NOW.
I certainly never thought of myself as a perfectionist, until I recognised I didn’t do well with making mistakes (and receiving negative feedback or other people’s judgement).
But there’s a problem with perfectionism.
The more time we spend thinking, the less time we spend on taking imperfect action and appreciating the journey.
Let me tell you about one of the wins that one of my clients shared with me.
Implementation is key
They implemented what they are learning about human behaviour and our different personal styles, they now see their child’s choices and responses in a different light.
But here’s the most important part.
They implemented what they learned as soon as possible.
Testing and measuring fresh approaches, refining as they gain understanding of how their own style and their child’s might rub up against each other. Finding the pathway that accepts the differences as well as being able to guide the child, the way they are, instead of how the parent believes they “should” be.
This has empowered my client to feel more at ease with many of their child’s behaviours, which had previously been triggers.
Positive and Conscious Parenting isn’t letting the child run wild, being permissive to avoid conflict. Nor is it being directive and expecting perfect implementation.
It’s about understanding our child and supporting them make the most of their natural energy and flow. Accepting them as they are, which enables them to learn more effectively.
This fresh perspective has meant that they are no longer as worried about the behaviour “in the moment”, appreciating that their child is on a learning journey. It’s much easier to support learning when a child feels emotionally safe.
The end result is more joy and easier communication which has lead to even better outcomes and a child wanting to follow instructions.
Progress over perfection
Now, compare this to how the perfectionist does things.
They’d see that their child (or their partner) may “not be doing things exactly right”, so they step in and “help” to do things “the right way”.
As a result, the other parties feel judged and unaccepted even though they’re working on ‘getting it right’. The parent providing feedback has all the best intentions in the world, and without conscious intention is trampling boundaries.
In those moments, the parent offering guidance and support can end up alienating the child and/or partner while trying to get “everything right the first time”.
What the other parties need is more validation of their efforts and empathy on their progress. And sometimes the best thing is to stay out of the conversation, in the moment. The learning opportunity can be delivered later, IF necessary. (exception being abusive/physical reactions). Not just garden variety opportunity for improvement.
It might take them many iterations to get things running smoothly, and at least they remain open to the feedback, rather than you becoming the perceived “problem”.
In situations where we take over and make it about our wants and expectations (of perfection), the focus becomes us instead of the issue we want solved. The outcome, finding a solution hasn’t taken one step forward. It hasn’t generated any forward momentum.
Not a great way to enable emotional growth in the family, right?
Here’s the key lesson that I want you to take from this.
Perfection is the enemy of progress.
Every single person who’s ever succeeded in life has made mistakes along the way.
They’ve implemented imperfect models and tried things without knowing for certain that they’ll work.
It’s growth mindset in action.
And by taking imperfect action we either win or we learn— there’s no losing.
The only time you lose is when you stop taking imperfect action.