Monday, January 18, 2010

Mommy help? encouraging a perfectionist.

Meet Ava.
She's a 2 1/2 yr old bundle of fun.

Killer sense of humor.

Pretty cute (if I do say so myself)

Smarter than I'd like at times.

And a huge heart.

It excites me so much to watch her grow up as I already see so many character strengths in her that I know God can use to do great things.

Yet lately, I've been encountering something in her I would love some mommy advice in how to best help her.

You see?

Ava (like her mommy) is what I describe as a "lazy perfectionist."

It isn't about how life has to look (anyone who walks into my house knows that is true : ) ).

But it means that when it comes to ourselves, we can be "all or nothing."

We like to do things well, QUICKLY, and have a hard time dealing with life when it feels hard or seems we aren't doing something as well as we want to RIGHT NOW.

I'm probably more aware of it knowing how it's affected me in my own life.

Looking at life in such black and white (when it came to myself) for quite a while definately took my down some paths I would prefer to help Ava avoid.

I've learned so much in this aspect and much has changed - although I still have to fight it and it probably still is a huge weakness of mine.

Be aware -I'm not trying to create problems for Ava that don't exist.

But because I'm aware of it in myself, I see it happen easily for her.

We'll be making a card for someone and when she can't do a circle like she wants, she begins to throw a fit, quits and says, "mommy do it."

Putting shoes on by herself? If it takes much more than the first try, full-out drama ensues.

You can pretty much apply that to anything that involves her learning a new skill or doing something that takes some extra effort.

It isn't all the time, but a good chunk of them.

And what is hard for me is that it only from her end.

It doesn't bother me if she colors outside the line, makes a silly looking circle, takes 5 minutes to put on her shoe or makes a mistake.

That's all a part of the learning process and I expect it.

So the painful part is that it's entirely self-inflicted..

The child is only 2.

So when we find ourselves in the situation when she just starts breaking down, I don't push it or pick a battle.

I just calmly tell her we'll put it away and try more later.

Or I calmly tell her there's no need to throw a fit and if she uses her kind words and asks for help, Mommy would be glad to help her.

But I see it happening more and more with tasks that don't come easily to her.

And I'd love to help her learn to give herself grace much earlier than I learned to.

So if any of you other mommies have encountered this in your kids, I'd love to know how you've helped teach your own kids what grace looks like in their lives.

I want Ava to know that who she is goes far beyond what she can do and how quickly/well she does it.

And if as a side effect - the tantrums happen to ease some over these encountered obstacles?

Well, let's just call that an added bonus. : )


amy said...

ava is so sophie and cole's little sister!!!!

....give yourself grace and she will start to give herself grace since she loves to be like you...i started to make a point to do that openly and now one of cole's lines is: "don't worry mom - we all make mistakes!" - priceless coming from a perfectionist at heart :)

would ava enjoy a 'messy art' time - my kids always loved the intentional messy art time - teaching them to be confident with abstract designs and not so perfect circles!!

i also noticed the kids thrived when i would reward process as much as outcome....rewarding learning to tie shoes as much as rewarding tying the shoes -

and i love telling the kids they were 'perfect' and 'complete' in gods eyes before they were born - i know ava is 2 but she will start to absorb those words...

just thoughts.... i love you and ava cherise so much!!! xoxo auntie amy

mom Bahr said...

Your insight for Ava is a huge first step in helping her out and what you already are doing is another step forward. There is a blessing in role modeling 'imperfection' and just trying our best. I know you have lots of excellent resources and Godly mothers to help you, plus you can learn from our mistakes and efforts. We are prayerful for all of you - and love you all just as God made you. We are on this journey of life together, trusting God to help and mold us to His glory and honor. love forever, mom
ps I also am looking forward to reading all your responses and good advice!