“Get it off! Get it off!” The five-year-old girl screams at the top of her lungs. I look in her direction, expecting something horrid on her—like a snake or spider of hideous proportions. On the contrary, she has glue on her fingers. Just a tiny bit of glue coats her middle and ring finger on one hand, something most people wouldn’t even react to. “Okay,” I begin to speak after the initial shock of her sudden outburst subsides. “Let me help you.” I work quickly to help her clean her fingers with a wet rag. The girl smiles and her breathing starts to slow. I take a deep breath myself.
It’s the start of a new school year. For healthy strivers—kids with big goals and high standards—this is a time of excitement, anticipating the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. For perfectionists—kids with impossible expectations and intense fear of failure—this is a time of high anxiety.
How can you help your adolescent or college-age child be a healthy striver rather than a destructive perfectionist?