My parents have overly high expectations for my sister, how can I help her?

My younger sister is in her second year of high school. When she was five years old, a psychologist tested her. He found she was at a grade four level in all subjects. My parents have taken this very seriously. They have much too high expectations for her. She is already a perfectionist. What steps can I take to help? I’ve tried bringing this to my parents’ attention, with no success.

Perfectionists have unrealistically high standards. When they don’t meet their standards, they criticize themselves. Perfectionists don’t notice their successes and focus on failure.

For perfectionists, everything that isn’t perfect is a failure. So getting 90 out of 100 on a test can’t be enjoyed. Every small mistake is terrible.

Perfectionism can cause problems including: headaches, stress, anxiety, depression, suicide attempts, eating disorders and problems with friends. Perfectionists often push their standards on others. They have contempt for those who are not perfect.

Perfectionism is not the same as striving for excellence. The only way to be excellent is to make mistakes. Successful people take chances and fail. They learn from failure.

Unreasonable standards, criticism of every mistake, and no praise for doing well contribute to perfectionism in children. Children should be valued for themselves, not just for being successful. Some people seem to have genes for perfectionism.

We should encourage our children to do well. But accept and love them when they are less than perfect.

What can you do? Tell your sister about mistakes you have made. Show her you are not upset by them. Praise her for small successes. Object to her self-criticism. Make it clear that you believe that all mistakes are not terrible. Encourage her to be gentle on herself.

I am not sure what to suggest about your parents. Telling parents how to manage the other children seldom works.

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