As a life coach promoting happiness, I find myself talking a lot about perfectionism as an obstacle on the way to a happy life. After researching the science of happiness and seeing thousands of clients, including many parents and children, I can tell you that happiness and perfectionism cannot live in the same body. They are like the good and the bad wolves living in your body and when you feed one, the other one starves.
The problem with perfectionism is not only that perfectionists are not happy but also that those who are close to them are not happy either because of it.
Many grownup perfectionists started out as perfectionist kids. In my kids’ assessments, I can tell if a child has a tendency towards perfectionism from age 3. Most people believe this cannot be helped. Some kids are born perfectionists and that is that, but I think this attitude makes our life much harder, because repeating this mantra guarantees there is nothing we can do about it.
Much like any other “disease”, perfectionism can be cured and the best time to do it is during early childhood, before the child develops strong behavior patterns that are hard to change.
I also believe that the best people to cure child perfectionism are parents, because their love for their child will help them overcome the resistance.