This months blog article was written by Speech Pathologist Genevieve Ward.
Speech Pathologists are often described as super organised, colour coordinated, highlighter-happy professionals with a binder folder of categorised snazzy stickers. Many would say we are a good example of a perfectionist. We like to dot each ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ with a 1.0 mm nib blue ink pen that doesn’t smudge. This quality largely helps us in what we do each day. We look out for little changes in our clients and pick up on other features as they are developing. This quality however, if relied on all of the time, can have a harmful effect. Speaking from experience, it is impossible to be perfect all the time. The product of aiming to be perfect around the clock is the creation of a stressed out mini monster inside of us.
The same theory applies to the clients we work with. Too often I have seen parents in sessions get anxious about their child’s messy cutting and pasting, and take over the craft activity of making a paper plate butterfly. Little do the parents realise that the making of the butterfly is not the main goal, but rather a way to promote the child’s fine motor skills, practice listening to and following instructions, and of course to have fun in the session. The butterfly can then be used in the child’s symbolic and imaginative play sequences! We know that when our clients have fun in sessions they learn best! Putting pressure on our children to be perfect has the opposite effect. In fact, allowing our children and even ourselves to make mistakes helps us to learn!
Anxiety in young children is on the rise. I have witnessed it first hand with a large proportion of the children I see displaying some levels of anxiety. In fact, findings from the latest Young Minds Matter Survey in 2015 revealed a national prevalence of 6.9% for anxiety disorders in young people. One in fourteen young Australians (6.9%) aged 4-17 experienced an anxiety disorder in 2015. This is equivalent to approximately 278,000 young people.
How does perfectionism tie into this?
This week, try and take the pressure off yourself and your child. By releasing the extra pressure, the child may feel more comfortable in sessions, and may make incredible gains with their therapy goals. A parent’s behaviours influence their child’s responses to certain tasks and situation. Parents can model in many ways that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s time to make the stressed out mini monster extinct.
Imperfect activities for you to try with your child: