Three truths your perfectionist can learn

In the first post of this series, I shared how kids with perfectionist tendencies have some strengths that are often hidden by the myths they believe about themselves as learners. When kids learn to have a growth mindset their perspective gradually shifts and those strengths positively gleam.

Here are three new beliefs your kids can learn to cultivate a growth mindset.

One: Mistakes are essential to growth.

While most of us intuitively know that we don’t start out as experts at anything, our acceptance of that might best be described as begrudging. What if parents exercised a more robust view of mistakes as necessary tools for progress? They are stair steps to reach an end goal, yes, but they also give us valuable information. They give people around us information, too!

The scientific method of forming hypotheses, testing them, and then synthesizing observations is an excellent way to practice this. The game This is the Only Level is another fun way to see this principle at work. Each poor cartoon elephant corpse gives you more clues about what the rule is for each level of the game.

We can celebrate mistakes and learning risks our kiddos take when they make them.

Two: learning is a long game.

Learning is not a high stakes poker game with all your chips shoved into the center. You’re not all in! The game isn’t over with one mistake. We have so much time with our kids. Taking a long view means that learning is not about memorizing a discrete set of facts at a certain moment in time. Knowledge is infinite and no person can acquire all of it, and certainly not by the time they are eighteen.

When you and your child are feeling stressed over an academic task it’s often because the stakes feel too high. Stepping away from the stressor for a time can give you much needed perspective. As a parent, you can remind yourself that your child has his entire life to learn whatever set of concepts he desires. And with that truth in mind you’ll find yourself more focused on equipping him rather than filling him with information as quickly as possible.

Three: we are all born learners.

Consider the newborn babies and toddlers you know. Their curiosity is not something their parents teach them. They are born with a strong desire to sense things, to know, to experience the world around them. The more mobile they are the more dangerous this desire can be! They are willing to take great risks because they want to climb the table or touch the stove or see what happens when they rip the paper.

Adults and big kids have experienced that hot things burn and tall things fall which elicits more caution from them. And that’s good! But channeling a portion of a toddler’s curious zeal would make us all a bit braver in our quest for understanding and more resilient when we encounter setbacks. Knowing we were born to learn helps lift us out of myths we believe about our worth when we make mistakes.


Even if you’re someone who already embraces and practices these truths, reflecting on them with your child will give you both the chance to cheer each other on. Stay tuned for more tips in the series to help you and your kid learn bravely!

Up next in the growth mindset series – Seeds: designed to grow. Find out how my avocado pit taught me to be a more patient mom.

Did you miss the first post of the series? You can find it here.