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PErfectionism in an 8 year old?

My daughter is eight and we had parent teacher conference on wed. The teacher told me that my daughter is a perfect student. All a's scored in the 97th percentile on her sat test from last year etc. The thing she worries about is that my daughter is a perfectionist. To the extreme that she gets upset and has panic attacks at school when she gets something wrong and now they want her to see a counselor. I need to know what you ladies suggest, how do i stop this, what may have caused it, what do i do? or should i even be worried. Sometimes the attacks are so bad she cries and has to be taken out of class. I don't know what to do! Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated.

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Asked by elananme at 6:43 PM on Oct. 20, 2008 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

Level 12 (881 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • If she's having panic attacks, I would be concerned. Not worried, per se, but concerned. Have you talked to her doctor about this yet? Is this something that you've noticed before this teacher said anything to you? Have you ever noticed her acting this way at home? Have you talked to her former teachers? Before having her meet with a counselor, I'd try to talk to her former teachers, and to her doctor, especially if you haven't noticed anything before this or at home. If it's never been a problem before, I'd want to see what has changed from last year to this year, besides the teacher and the work. I would think that it might be something specific bothering her that might be more easily resolved by talking to her and working with her yourselves, rather than a counselor who might want to simply label her and be done.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 7:00 PM on Oct. 20, 2008

  • We have noticed it before and shes a survivor of sexual abuse so her regular counselor said to expect it. The counselor at school has known her since kindergarten and is really great. She knows my daughters history. None of her other teachers have said anything about this to me. She changed schools this year when she moved up to the third grade is it possible this might be the trigger, if it is there realy is nothing i can do about it. She gets frustrated easily with her homework when she doesnt get the right answer right away but i didnt think it had progressed to this extent, do you really think I need to talk to her doctor or wait till i hear from the counselor?

    Answer by elananme at 7:22 PM on Oct. 20, 2008

  • Oh, wow, you didn't mention the abuse. I'm sorry to hear about that. I think changing schools might have contributed, but the past abuse changes what I think. I think having her talk to a counselor would probably be a good idea. When I first read your post, my impression was that she was an otherwise happy, healthy kid. If that had been the case, sometimes counselors and teachers will just label a kid with a problem just to be done, or to be able to say they've solved the problem, even if they haven't. But, considering her past, it's clear she may already have issues, and since you say the counselor is so great, I think having her talk to the counselor would be good. I hope everything gets better, for all of you.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 6:50 AM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • I'm so sorry about this. I feel that you do need to be concerned, especially in light of her previous history. I would seek counseling for her immediately, because feeling the need to be perfect is too much for any of us, let alone an 8 year old.

    As for what you can do to help, just give her lots of love and support. Show the mistakes you make in your own life to her, then say, "Oh well, nobody's perfect!" Then give her a big hug.

    Since she is obviously very bright, she may have set her own standards very high.

    Best of luck!


    Answer by Snowcorgi at 9:19 AM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • You are describing my son. I had him on medication for a few years, which helped a little, but opted to take him off several months ago. I was afraid of the long-term effects on his health and the side effects. My recommendation to you is to schedule her with a therapist. Get his or her take on the situation and go from there.


    Answer by goddessmonica at 10:55 AM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • let her talk with the school counsolor - it can't hurt.
    also, just keep doing what your doing and be calm and loving with her. ask her if she loves you. when she replys yes, remind her that you make mistakes too. your not great at everything, but you are still a good person and you are sure of that because she loves you even when your not perfect. You can even bring God into it. He made us just the way we are - on purpose! beacuse we are special just the way we are. My daughter beats herslef up too if she mkes a mistake, but slowly but surely, I keep telling her what I just typed and she is getting it. some kids are just perfectionist. good luck and I will keep you in my prayers!

    Answer by Sherry6470 at 1:04 PM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • I would say your daughter is still struggling with the sexual abuse. I would have her keep seeing a therapist because she sounds like she has alot she needs to work through. I too was a survivor of sexual abuse and an extreme perfectionist. I took it even farther and struggled with anorexia for over 7 yrs. I'm in recovery now but I still struggle at times with it all.

    I would say your daughter is trying her hardest to get approval and feel she is worth something. Just keep reminding her how special she is and remind her that nobody is expecting perfection from her.

    Answer by mysonismyjoy at 2:41 PM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • being a victim of sexual abuse myself younger than her, I always tried to keep my mind off what had happened by focusing totally on something else and refused to think and deal with what happened to me. I blamed myself until I was an older adult. Being young and abused will not be an easy thing for her, helping her cope will. Tell her she can go to the park or out in your yard and just scream and get all the internal anger or shame she doesn't know what to do with out and then when she has spent all that energy she may feel like you just having quiet time . Not dealing with what happened to her is what is causing her panic attacks and perfectionism. It will take patience on your part and develop a best friend/parent relationship with her and just make sure you let her know even though a bad thing happened to her it happens to alot of Innocent people that is just lifes way of molding us into who we are suppose to be.

    Answer by 1countrygal at 4:39 PM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • The abuse happened over three years ago and she has become a speaker at her school and other local schools about safetouching and personal safety which has helped, she has a regular counselor that she talks to biweekly and this is an issue they will be working on. I just wonder if there is something i need to be doing at home to "encourage more mistakes" (so to speak) and what do i need to do to help her not be so perfect

    Answer by elananme at 6:46 PM on Oct. 21, 2008

  • If you want to encourage and show her mistakes are ok, why don't you try making some mistakes she can see? Nothing big, just say...wash the dishes, but don't get them all the way clean, and ask her to put them away. She'll see they're still a little dirty, and tell you and you can then say, oh, I guess I made a mistake, thank you for showing me, let me fix that now. Or read a book to her and skip a page so she can point out to you that you did it. Or ask your hubby to help you, too. Make a mistake and have him point it out so she can see the interaction between you two, of him nicely pointing it out and you taking the information appropriately and correcting your mistake. And vice versa. She'll see that you still love each other, no matter what and come to understand that you love her the same way.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 7:53 AM on Oct. 22, 2008

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