My only child is a perfectionist. Now that I have identified the reason for Joshua’s stress at school, it is time to learn about it and help him deal with it. I know I am not the only one who has experienced this and I also know this will apply to a lot of first born children too. I know because I am a first born child. I learned to moderate my perfectionist tendencies when I was in my twenties long before I had Joshua, but alas, it is in his genes.

Today was the orientation for middle school. He will be in 5th grade next year and was initially all excited because of the new things they will experience (iced tea at lunch and study hall before going home every day). Now that he has experienced a day-in-the-life, he is worried about the stress of it all. I anticipated his concern and stopped the head of the middle school after his presentation to ask for some pointers so I would know how to begin to prepare Joshua and also so I would know how to pray for him. He acknowledged the school tends to turn out overachievers because it is run by overachievers. LOL At any rate, he understands my dilemma and I think he will be a good resource for the future. He had 2 thoughts to get me started.

First, is to point out the differentiation between perfectionism and excellence. So what is the difference? Perfectionism is to be without fault or error. The only perfect person is God, so to try to be perfect is to set yourself up for failure…and nobody likes to fail (ESPECIALLY not a perfectionist!). Excellence means outstanding or extremely good. Excellence is something to strive for…it is continuous improvement. Doing your best and then raising the bar a little to be better next time.

Second, he used the analogy of someone hanging from a bar. A perfectionist is constantly holding on with both hands in a death grip. Afraid to let go…”I mean, what will happen if I let go?” He said it is ok to let go with one hand every once in a while. You will still be able to hang while holding on with one hand. You won’t drop to your death. And then if you decide you want to grab the bar with both hands at a later date, you can do that. After all, your other hand is right there.

These are definitely some good thoughts. I am sure I will have many conversations with him (and the school counselor) as we navigate middle school for the first time next year. On a side note, I am so thankful that Joshua has a great group of friends who know how to have fun and are supportive of each other. I know that is one of the struggles middle school children experience. I will continue to pray for his friends for this reason…they are an important part of his life.