Creative Child

Why Firstborns and Only Children are Perfectionists

by Deborah Song on Apr 18th, 2016

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Here’s what parents can do to help your child strive for excellence and liberate him from the burden of perfectionism.

1. Be content with good enough.

Don’t be an “improver” of everything your firstborn or only child says or does. Constantly correcting your firstborn or only child reinforces his or her already ingrained perfectionism. The message can be as subtle and tacit as remaking the bed your child just made.

You may not be saying, “That’s not how you make the bed,” but you’re still conveying to your child that his job wasn’t good enough. Make a conscious effort to be satisfied with the efforts of your firstborn.   

2. Discipline with gentleness.

Many firstborns are people pleasers, rule followers, and tend to be critical of themselves. So if you must discipline your firstborn, make sure to dole out correction in manageable doses since he will likely be punished twice: once by you and then by himself. And make sure to follow up discipline and correction with lots of hugs. 

Disciplining the Sensitive Child

3. Take two-on-one time.

A firstborn often feels that his parents don’t pay much attention to him because they’re always concentrating on the younger ones. So for the oldest child, to get two-on-one time is very cherished quality time.

4. Value their opinion.

Try asking them what they think dinner should be, or what dad might like for his birthday. Asking and taking their opinion into consideration validates them.

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5. Flaunt your own mistakes.

Every parent makes mistakes but not every parent admits them. Every time you admit your own mistakes, you tell your child you’re not perfect. And each time you show your child your imperfections, it relieves him a little bit of the burden to be perfect himself.

Related Article: You Blew It! Now What?

Deborah Song is a Los Angeles-based writer and the mother of two girls. She received her master’s in journalism from New York University and writes about parenting, business and kid entrepreneurship. You can read more of her work at lemonadepost.com.

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