Letting Go Of Perfectionism

Letting Go Of Perfectionism

“Put a mark next to your name, Kim.”


It was 5th grade and I was out of my seat using the pencil sharpener attached to the wall. (It was the 80’s, ya’ll.)

Our classroom behavior management system consisted of a large piece of paper hung on the wall listing all of our names. If someone got in trouble, they had to walk over to that paper and draw a dot next to their name.

When I heard my name called, I was horrified, so much so that I remember this incident 38 years later. I had no idea I wasn’t supposed to be out of my seat at that time. It was a simple mistake, an oops. It could’ve been no big deal, but it wasn’t.

I worked very hard to avoid making mistakes. I spent my school days performing, perfecting, and pleasing to avoid being ostracized, judged, or negatively in the spotlight.

I was sensitive to my teacher’s correction, to feeling stupid because I messed up, and to being called out in front of my classmates. I felt deeply ashamed.

In that moment, Perfectionism grabbed my hand and squeezed even tighter than before, “I’ll protect you from this yucky feeling. Just avoid everything I warn you about and this will never happen to you again.”

What I didn’t know then that I do know now is Perfectionism lies.

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When Sadness Affects Kids’ Self Worth

When Sadness Affects Kids' Self- Worth

Kids who are wired to experience strong reactions to life, to feel things deeply, and to think about life deeply seem to experience sadness more intensely and more frequently than other children. These same kids are often creative, bright, and socially and emotionally sensitive.

Raise your hand if you were one of these kids or if you’re teaching, counseling, or raising one of these kids. 🙋🏻‍♀️ I was and I am.

As a child, when I experienced something sad, my go-to response was to internalize the problem and overthink things. Some kids externalize and make things someone else’s fault and others internalize looking within themselves for the reason why something happened to them.

And what’s a natural conclusion for a deep thinking child who internalizes to come to when they try to make sense of their world and can’t figure out why “bad” things are happening?

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Guiding Kids to Ask for Help

Guiding Kids to Ask for Help

Your son is building a robot out of legos when you hear a yell of frustration and a crash. You ask him what happened and he says, “It kept breaking. I can’t do it.” And you offer to help him, thinking or saying, “Why didn’t you ask for help?”

Your students are working on their classwork. As you look around you notice that Emma is fidgeting with her pencil, trying to look busy, but isn’t writing a thing. You go over to her desk, crouch down next to her, and ask if she needs any help. “Yes. I don’t know what to do.” she mumbles. And you help her, thinking or saying, “Why didn’t you ask for help?’

The child you work with is sharing one of the stories above and you ask them… (well, no big surprise here, you can probably guess where we’re headed) you ask them, “Why didn’t you ask for help?”

And their answers may vary…

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