Perfectionism and Gifted Children

Helpful Tips for Parents of Perfectionistic Gifted Learners
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Thank you for this truly insightful and thought-provoking post, Gail. It does make me reconsider many things I once believed. Me too!

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Mine has won a bunch of art awards and science fairs and he doesn't care. Once he's finished it, he's moved on.

Perfectionism in Children, by Dr. Dan Peters, Summit Center

He doesn't care what comes of it, he's on to the next big thing. Great post, Gail! I've thought of this often myself. My husband and I cut corners and slacked all through school.

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It's not uncommon for high-ability children to also be perfectionists. Whether they worry about getting a drawing exactly right, earning all A's in school, or feeling. Perfectionism and Gifted Children (): Rosemary S. Callard-Szulgit EdD University at Buffalo; author "Perfectionism and Gifted.

Did well academically but we certainly weren't perfectionists across the board. With things I'm passionate about? I see it more there. Thanks so much, Celi and Cait. I also saw this with my kids and with most of their friends.

Perfectionism and Anxiety: A Paradox in Intellectual Giftedness?

Their passions and interests drove them; grades, awards, etc. The children who struggled more in school often took more pride in awards and external recognition.

Feedspot Top 10 Gifted Ed Blog

They just needed it more. Gifted children seem to know when the award is deserved, when they truly worked hard to accomplish it or not, and when it seems like fluff. Sort of like the soccer trophies that the whole team gets at the end of every season regardless of whether they win or not - just silly, really.

Thanks for both of your comments! This is a different take on this topic, Gail. If I had more time, I'd make a more thought-out comment but I will definitely reflect on what you're saying here. In my experience, I've found many of my gifted clients are perfectionists. I've seen two types of perfectionism. One type, the "intrinsic type," is the "healthy" version. The striving for beauty, balance, harmony, justice and precision. I find gifted people can develop this type when there's too much emphasis on achievement, grades and being smart.

Anyway, that's the quick version of my take on the topic. As you know there's so much more one could say. It's a great topic and I appreciate your tackling it, with clarity and insight. Paula, Thank you for your always helpful and insightful comments.

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I agree that it is a complicated issue. I have also seen a lot of striving for excellence among gifted people, along with a fair share of unhealthy perfectionism. And I have seen a lot of perfectionism among people who are not gifted, especially women! I suspect that there are a fair number of gifted people who struggle with perfectionism, but plenty who don't - those who underachieve, or have come to terms with a healthy balance.

And there are plenty of those who are not gifted who struglle with it. I guess the bottom line is sorting out how to help anyone who is debilitated by this terrible pressure to conform and who experiences so much anxiety. Thanks again.

Helping Gifted Students Cope with Perfectionism

Thank-you for this. I think what really complicates the work that I do with gifted individuals is in the "making and then living up to their own rules". However, perfectionism can be viewed as having both positive and negative aspects. Perfectionists have been described in a negative light as, "people who strain compulsively and unremittingly toward impossible goals and who measure their own worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishment. Despite the fact that there are studies showing a linkage between perfectionism and these conditions, it does not necessarily follow that perfectionism is the cause, or that perfectionism is inherently destructive.

Rather than always thinking of perfectionism as a negative personality trait that leads to harmful consequences, it is worth considering the positive aspects of perfectionism as well.

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Another study of middle school students LoCicero and Ashby, investigated whether gifted students differed from a group of their peers from the general cohort on a multidimensional measure of perfectionism that included maladaptive as well as adaptive components. Go to Page 2. This book provides a wonderful gift to young children, helping them understand that mistakes are a normal part of life and everything they do simply does not have to be perfect. For a perfectionist, a grade of A- might be perceived as a poor grade. Anonymous April 8, at AM. Gifted children are their own "bosses," often evaluating themselves with a "good" or "bad" rating. Another line of research that emerges from this study concerns the influence of school curriculum on the development of perfectionism.

Think of an Olympic athlete, a world famous violin soloist, or anyone who has risen to the top of their field through hard work, and dedication to their own high standards. Without striving for perfection these individuals almost certainly would not have achieved at the same high levels. For gifted individuals who are exceptionally talented in a given domain performance that approaches perfection is not an unreasonable goal. Adler said, "the striving for perfection is innate in the sense that it is a part of life, a striving, an urge, a something without which life would be unthinkable.

Winner noted that gifted children are well known to be perfectionists, "But being a perfectionist could well be a good thing if it means having high standards, for high standards ultimately lead to high achievement" Winner, , p.

Perfectionism and Gifted Students

Hamachek described both the positive and negative aspects of perfectionism. He viewed perfectionism as multidimensional existing along a spectrum ranging from normal to neurotic.

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In his definition n ormal perfectionists "derive a very real sense of pleasure from the labors of a painstaking effort," and neurotic perfectionists are "unable to feel satisfaction because in their own eyes they never seem to do things good enough to warrant that feeling. Research on perfectionism and gifted children is still in its infancy.

At this point there is not enough research to indicate whether perfectionist traits in childhood persist in adolescence and adulthood. Parents and teachers of gifted children often report a high level of perfectionism among these children, and while some recent studies of gifted adolescents indicate that there may be a higher rate of perfectionism among gifted children than in the general population, other studies have found that the rate of perfectionism in the gifted is not higher than in the general population.

However, the situation is complicated by the inconsistent definitions of perfectionism that we tend to use. For instance, when a gifted child is described as a perfectionist does the term mean that the child has high personal standards or is used to indicate maladjustment on the part of the child? A study of perfectionistic gifted adolescents in a rural middle school confirmed that perfectionism is a characteristic of many gifted adolescents. In fact,