While many would agree that a child with well-defined goals and who is excelling in school is something to be encouraged, symptoms of anxiety related perfectionism can lead to later development of more pervasive anxiety disorders that impact the quality of the child’s life. Recent research has defined perfectionists as people whose standards are high beyond reach or reason. Children with perfectionism symptoms may strive compulsively and rigidly toward impossible goals and measure their own worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishment. While many children may experience feelings of worry or apprehension related to school work and achievement, some rigid behaviors may be noticed in areas outside of the classroom. As a child develops, symptoms of perfectionism may present differently. While each child may present differently, here are some common themes noticed in perfectionistic children:
– Children who consistently have their “guard up” when meeting new people
– Child with often appear perfect, with pristine dress and poise
– Children may be described as mature “beyond years”
– Procrastination: The child finds it difficult to start work especially with vague directions and show symptoms of frustration out of proportion with the task
– Child might routinely hand in late work due to excessive concern for the work being perfect that causes delay in completion
– The teacher may report missing assignments as the child may not submit anything less than perfect
– Lack of sense of freedom or fun noticed in the child
– Child is tired most of the time or lack of sleep
This is not an exhaustive list and each symptom will look differently for each child. Additionally, no one symptom is enough to conclude a child as perfectionistic. If you notice these symptoms impacting the child’s quality of life, research shows individual therapeutic interventions to be helpful in the treatment and teaching of life and symptom management skills. Please call us at (215) 487-1330 or email us at Greenridge@intercommunityaction.org for more information about our counseling services.
Author: Ashley M. Smith, M.S.