When Perfectionist is a bad thing

Another parenting post.

But perhaps this can apply in many other situations in our lives, whether with people that work for us, spouses, or anything really.

I was talking to a friend recently, who gave me some good advice.

“Don’t expect your 8 (5, 1) year old, to act older than their age.”

I have often been disappointed or frustrated with my children for things that could be considered normal behaviours.

img_3460.jpegExample: I pick up all the couch cushions and pillows off the floor, for the thousandth time this week, the millionth this year, and my toddler within minutes tears them all off again, laughing and finding it to be the best game he’s ever played.  I see the out-of-place pillows; I obsess over the dirt and dust they are rolling around in; my mind is wrought with concern over rips and tears; I get mad.  I have to remind him, AGAIN, that this is not the purpose of the pillows.  I resist the urge to yell “Sage! Stop!” as a last-ditch effort to end the madness.  It is futile.  I let it ruin my mood.

Why would I expect my toddler to care about the cleanliness or organization of my couch pillows?  To him, these are a great tool for fun!

Since my friend challenged me, I have been constantly checking my mind for unrealistic expectations.  And it is actually helping me! It may seem silly, and I don’t think I am being too soft, but now when my daughter starts to unpack her lunchbox after school, instead of getting upset that she ate only two small items (and usually the least nutritious), I expect that she didn’t eat ANY of the food.  Why would I expect my 8-year-old, who during lunch time at school has the freedom to choose what she eats or doesn’t, to choose the nutritiously dense items to eat first?  Of course, she’s going to go for the fruit snacks, or the muffin first as opposed to the cucumber slices or hard boiled egg.   Now, when she has eaten most or all of her lunch, I am ecstatic!

You see, I believe there are times when I SHOULD expect that my expectations be met.  i.e. “Please go upstairs and get your socks on so we can leave,”.  This morning, this direction was blatantly ignored, and so I had to make a correction.

But how many times in a day do we expect things, only to be frustrated and disappointed?

I realized that for me, there are expectations I have almost constantly that I was not even aware of!  I think that it stems from a “Type A” personality, or a “perfectionist” mindset, or whatever term you want to fill in there.  But the more I am understanding where these attributes are a weakness for my mind and heart, the more I can open my eyes to reality, and have a true sense of peace.

Do you have unrealistic expectations that are stifling your joy?  If you are finding yourself stressed, frustrated, or disappointed constantly, maybe it’s time to ask yourself that.

Let’s learn to live in better peace together.


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