Do you know a child who is always trying to get to “perfect”? Being called a perfectionist is almost universally a criticism in our society. It doesn’t have to be. Some kids that are reaching for the ultimate aren’t unnecessarily stressing them selves out. They may gifted.
The gifted child is capable of seeing what others do not. They envision a wider and deeper experience, a more complete artistic expression, a better-turned phrase. And they demand a chance to achieve it. In this way, perfecting their performance or product isn’t psychological struggle, it is accomplishing what they can imagine.
A gifted child may not beat himself up for not immediately achieving his vision, but he may not leave well enough alone. He may not have to. Given the chance, he may work happily on his project for hours or days or even months, not really minding the process that requires failures and one-offs. This should give you a clue to the source of your child’s persistence; the gifted enjoy the process as much as the product. This is very different from the child who tears up a picture in frustration. There are no tears from a gifted child, but there may not be any negotiation. They cannot leave their work in it’s current state, knowing that a better outcome is right around the corner.
What if the picture or term paper is due on Tuesday?
Give your gifted child the gift of understanding and teach them that deadlines also have value. Living in our society requires the gifted child to bend to fit, but not break. They can continue to work on their project when it is returned to them, or they can accept that reaching the perfect state the they see is something that doesn’t happen with every endeavor.
Let them enjoy the creative process, as this is the true joy for them. Gifted children need your help to learn how to navigate the wider world, where often their modest efforts are celebrated. They know that they can do more, but if they can shift off of a demand for perfection in some things, they can reach the heights of their abilities in other experiences.