What happens when your kids let you down? Are you setting your child up to fail?
How is little Johnny? Is he well behaved at school? Does he always do his homework? Will he be captain of the footie team next term? Does he keep his room neat and tidy?
Or maybe it is little Jessie? Is she the best little ballet dancer in the school? Does she just love to help you in the kitchen? Is she going to take after her mother and become a lawyer?
And how about you? What sort of person are you? Are you always looking to see how your kids are performing at school? Do you glow with pride when they come home from school with an A grade report? Are you cheering from the sidelines when they win races in the school carnival?
Maybe this type of behaviour seems pretty normal to you. You are just encouraging your child to be as good as she can be. You are supporting her in her quest to be top of her class.
But watch out. What happens when little Johnny or little Jessie let you down?
If you watch perfectionist parents with their children, when their children fail, or do something naughty, the shame and disappointment in the parents’ faces is there for all to see . A child’s failure is an intensely emotional experience for the perfectionist parents especially when it occurs in public. And no one feels the shame more acutely than the child.
When your child does well, you believe that you are a good parent and when your child does badly you immediately think that you are a bad parent. But it isn’t about you and your perfectionist attitudes, it is about your child being allowed to be ‘good enough’.
Allow your child to be the person she is instead of having to live up to your unrealistic, standards. Many parents think that in order for their children to be better or smarter they need to be pushed. If she only does ‘good enough’ the perfectionist parent is there saying things like “ I know you can do better,” or “ Just try a little harder.”
Unfortunately children pick up on this ‘encouragement’ as criticism. They hear the words “You could do better.” Which means you are not good enough. They do not hear a positive side to this message, if there was one.
Children must be loved unconditionally and praised for who they are not what they do.
When the child hears ‘helpful advice‘ she hears criticism. She feels that she will never be good enough to meet the needs of her perfectionist and often narcissist parents. And she spends most of her life trying to meet the needs of others and mostly failing.
Your child needs to know that it is ok for her to fail and that you still love and support her despite the failings. Because failing and making mistakes is a necessary lesson in life. Your child will learn far more from her mistakes than from her successes. And when she doesn’t always do as well as she might, you need to be there for her, so you can soften the blow.
It is imperative that you separate out praise for an action versus acceptance of your child.
Will your child reach adult hood believing she is not good enough?
Are you setting your child up to fail?