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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
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The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Homeschooling Special Situations

Is Perfectionism a Part of Giftedness?
In a Word, "No"!

by Thomas S. Greenspon, Ph.D, copyright 2007

Many gifted kids have a sense of drivenness. They want to do well,
find the answer, ace the test, beat the record. They may spend lots
of time and energy in pursuit of excellence, and they may look and
feel frustrated when they don’t do as well as they would like.
Although many perfectionists will do all of this — none of this is
perfectionism. In my book, “
Freeing Our Families From
Perfectionism,” I explore the difference between perfectionism
and the pursuit of excellence.

Perfectionism is a desire to be perfect (not “almost perfect”), a
fear of not being perfect, and especially an emotional conviction
that perfecting oneself brings the hope of acceptance as a person.
Much is at stake in this, as when a perfectionist says, “I’m either
perfect or I’m worthless,” or, “I’m never good enough.”  
Perfectionism is a self esteem issue; because of what a
perfectionist has come to believe about himself or herself,
mistakes seem to be signs of a personal defect.

There are certainly gifted kids who are perfectionists. If we could
wave a magic wand and eliminate their perfectionism, though,
they would be no less gifted. Actually, since there is so much
anxiety in a perfectionist’s concern about outcomes, eliminating
perfectionism frequently helps one to be more successful.
Success comes, not because of perfectionism but because of
talent, energy, and commitment — the qualities, having nothing to
do with perfectionism, that are possessed by many gifted kids.

Perfectionism isn’t healthy, and it isn’t an aspect of giftedness!

Thomas S. Greenspon, Ph.D. is a Licensed Psychologist and a
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. He earned
his B.A. from Yale and his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of
Illinois. Tom lectures and writes on a variety of topics, including
perfectionism and the emotional needs of gifted children and adults.

Another great book by Thomas Greenspon, PhD:

What to Do When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough--
The Real Deal on Perfectionism: A Guide for Kids

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