A Problem with Praise

Praise has become the most commonly cited tool in the toolbox for Parenting 101. From toilet training accessories that chime “you’re so great, you’re a star” to monogrammed reward charts modern parents are pretty creative when it comes to finding ways to praise and reward their kids for just about anything.

Concerned about your child’s confidence, motivation, self-esteem, or NAPLAN performance? Our culture sees praise is seen as the sure-fire way to increase kids motivation to do just about any worthwhile activity. And if the praise doesn’t work- parents can rest in the belief that because it’s nice- it surely can’t do any harm? Right?

While its true that carefully applied praise and encouragement can make the world of difference to a child facing a difficult challenge- the type of praise we give our kids matters immensely.

Carol Dweck, an American psychologist has been researching praise and educational outcomes for over 45 years. Her research identifies two types of praise and explores the links with persistence, perseverance and creative problem solving.

She says praise that focuses on traits such as intelligence and talent creates hidden obstacles to life long learning. “Praising students’ intelligence gives them a short burst of pride,” says Dweck, “followed by a long string of negative consequences.”

When kids are praised with classic ‘smart kid praise’ such as “I knew you could do it, aren’t you clever” they don’t go on to face challenges with more confidence, perseverance or motivation. Instead the ‘smart’ identity creates an obstacle to persistence and creative problem solving.

When kids are praised for qualities they see as fairly fixed- such as intelligence, sporting prowess, or musicality they also internalise the understanding that being smart means you should expect to do things easily. If success meant they were smart, then struggling meant they were not. While these kids might perform ok when things are comfortable- when they are faced with something new, or competition they aren’t used to- the smart label comes back to bite them.

Instead of bringing confidence and creativity to new challenges, kids praised for being smart were more likely to avoid learning situations that they fear could be hard for them. Dweck found that kids in this situation put more of their energy into keeping up the appearance of being smart- and less energy into persevering, applying creative strategies or problem solving. As a group, the kids who had been praised for being smart lost confidence and enjoyment as a task became challenging. In fact, when kids had recently received praise for their intelligence they feared being found out so much that they were more likely to lie about their results.

So what’s the alternative? How can we use praise to be a helpful and effective motivator for kids?

Dweck identifies a second type of praise that is much more effective at enhancing learning and motivation. Process praise tells students what they’ve done to be successful and helps them draw the links with what they need to do to be successful again in the future.

Process praise focuses in on the particular strategies or qualities the child applied to succeed at a problem. It might sound like “I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it” or “You really studied for your English test, and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times, outlined it, and tested yourself on it. That really worked!”

Kids in Dweck’s research who were praised for their process of learning developed a ‘growth mindset’ instead of a ‘fixed mindset. This shift allowed them to see challenges as things that could be overcome with effort and utilising a range of strategies. In this mindset kids aren’t satisfied with just ‘learning in order to get good results’ but experience learning as a life-long process and improvement as something they can always attain if they are willing to participate in the struggle.

Two tips for praise with a growth mindset:

  1. Demonstrate a growth mindset by talking to your kids about your own history of learning and improvement. Tell your kids about the skills or competencies you have had to work to improve and how you did. Identify with them as they experience the struggle involved in deliberate learning.
  1. Praise the process not just the result. Reflect back to your child that you noticed them using special perseverance, creativity, problem solving or planning to achieve a goal.

Here are two web resources for considering effective praise.

Good material for thinking through helpful praise at different developmental stages.

https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/families/about-behaviour/curiosity-and-confidence/encouraging-and-praising-children

A wider perspective on praise and motivation.

http://www.hanen.org/Helpful-Info/Articles/Good-job!-Is-Praising-Young-Children-a-Good-idea.aspx

by Kristen Bayliss
Psychologist, The Resilience Centre

 

 

 

 

 

Using actions to change behaviour

Using actions to change behaviour

Today I am going to share this idea with you of how we can use action to change behaviour. Many people are quite familiar with the interrelationships between thoughts, feelings and actions, especially if you are a therapist. We tend to ask our clients to change their thinking, as we understand that if their beliefs are not going to change, their feelings and behaviour will remain the same.

There is a story about Abert Ellis when he was 19. He had a shyness towards women. He was inspired by the work of John Watson, a behavioural psychologist. He went to talk to 100 women and ask them on a date in the Bronx Botanical Gardens. At the end he approached 130 women and talked to around 100 of them. However, he was not successful at all. But it helped him overcome his fear and shyness of women and that led him to talk to another 100. That was to demonstrate how his actions, talking to 100 women helped him change his attitudes about his fear of talking to women.

When our thoughts, feelings and actions are not aligned with each other, we do not feel comfortable and will generate some form of resistance to defend ourselves. The concept behind this can be attributed to the theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1975). One of my personal experiences was when I was a late adolescent, I did not like to eat durian. I had been influenced by other people that its smell was just like the cat poo. One day I decided to try a little bit and was amazed with it’s taste and nothing smelled like cat poo. Initially my belief and behaviour contradicted each other. Something had to be done in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance. Even though I still had trouble resisting it, but when I decided to eat a little bit, it was proved that there was not anything that tasted or smelled like cat poo and at the end my attitude was changed.

Like watching a TV show initially you don’t like, after a while you tell yourself it is not that bad – you change your thoughts and feelings to make sense of the action to avoid cognitive dissonance.

In one occasion when I worked with a student who was caught shoplifting, she rationalized that they made such a big profit and when she took a few items from their shop it did not affect their financial stability. Obviously she was trying to justify her shoplifting behaviour  and was correct by aligning her belief and behaviour to reduce any cognitive dissonance, and as a result she did not feel bad about doing shoplifting. I was surprised the justification she came up with to make sense of her behaviour.
Like watching a TV show initially you don’t like, after a while you tell yourself it is not that bad – you change your thoughts and feelings to make sense of the action to avoid cognitive dissonance.

The theory of cognitive dissonance has been applied to what we called the Forced Compliance Behavior. When someone is forced to do (publicly) something they (privately) do not want to, dissonance in their cognition happens – I don’t want to do it and their behaviour is, I did it. The individual who performs the action is inconsistent with their beliefs. As the behaviour had already happened so dissonance will need to be reduced by changing their attitude.

Festinger (1957) did an experiemnt to demonstate the theory of dissonance. The study was called Measures of Performance. They asked the first group of participants to perform a series of monotonous tasks to put cotton spools onto a tray,empty the tray and refill the tray,and the other group to turn pegs in a peg board one after the other for 30 minutes non-stop. When they finished they were told they had to tell the waiting participants their tasks were all about mental preparedness and were very interesting. They were paid either $1 or $20 for telling a participant this message.

Can you guess :
Who reported the task as more fun and interesting?
A. those paid $1
B. those paid $20

Actually the tasks were very boring. It was the act of lying to others from each individual participant to create cognitive dissonance. Festinger predicted the $20 group would have less justification to change their opinions because they were paid a larger sum and felt less internal conflict. Those who would pay $1 feel more dissonance and justify their lie by changing their opinion of the boring task to match the lie they told others.

In the book “The As If Principle” (2013) written by psychologist Richard Wiseman, he mentioned how to use the theory of cognitive dissonance to apply it to our daily life. A few examples such as “if you ask older people to act younger, their memories and cognitions improve”, “If you ask someone to sequence their fist, their willpower improves”, “If you ask a procrastinator to spend three minutes pretending they find a task more interesting, they are more likely to complete the task”.

Have you heard about the Benjamin Franklin effect? One of Benjamin’s opponents, whom he had never even met or spoken to before, attacked him in a speech. Instead of delivering a speech accusing him back, Franklin asked him if he could borrow one of his rare books. He agreed and sent the rare book to Benjamin. A week later Benjamin returned the book to him with a thank you note. Afterwards they became lifelong friends. How and why did this happen? Benjamin Franklin explained that once your opponent has done you a kindness he will be more likely to do you another one. It was because the positive action of lending Franklin a book was converted into positive thinking and feelings towards Franklin. Once again, action changes attitude faster than attitude changes action. By the same token you can also use this technique to ask a girl on the street to do you a favour, and if she agrees there is a higher chance you will be able to make friends with her later on.

In order to change our thought, it would be preferable to minimise our cognitive dissonance and resistance so that if we act first, then it will align our thoughts and feelings to the action. Remember that action changes attitude faster than attitude changes action.

References:
Cherry, K. (2006). What is cognitive dissonance? About.com Psychology. Accessed at http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/f/dissonance.html.
Festinger, L. (1975). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Ferrier, A.; Fleming, J. (2014). The advertising effect: how to change behaviour. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.
Wiseman, R. (2013). The as if principle: the radically new approach to changing your life. New York: Free Press.

Gabriel Wong
Clinical Psychologist at the Resilience Centre

What is Meditation? and How to do it?

Meditation is a topic that has recently received a great deal of attention for its benefits, especially those pertaining to mental health. Historically, meditation was considered to be an alternative health care practice originating in the East. However, with the advent of programs incorporating meditation such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction by Jon Kabat-Zin and subsequent scientific studies, there is now a large body of research to support its health benefits. Currently, it is common to find meditation courses in hospitals, psychology practices, rehabilitation clinics and other multi-disciplinary facilities.

Despite the rising popularity of meditation a lot of confusion still exists. Common questions include: How do I meditate and does it work? What type of meditation should I practice? How long and how often should I practice for? What should I expect from a regular meditation practice? Meditation is simply a way of calming down the monkey mind observing thoughts, feelings, sensations without judgement. Historically, the monkey mind has kept us safe. Back in hunter gatherer days we needed scattered attention to  survive, scanning the environment for predators. In modern western society we receive information through the internet, social media, television and other forms faster than our nervous system and brain can handle. The result often takes a toll on our mental health with conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression and on physical health with illness such as cancer and heart disease.

If you are new to meditation it can be helpful to try a few different styles to ascertain which method works best for you. There are many different styles of meditation usually classified by the way they focus attention. For example:

  • Passive meditation (sitting in stillness where the focus point can be the breath or a single sound) All perceptions internal (thoughts, feelings, memory) or external (sounds, hearing, smell) are recognized and seen for what they are. The participant is encouraged to experience their perceptions in a non-reactive process from moment to moment. For example in breath meditation you are encouraged to pay attention to the breath. When you notice the mind wandering and thoughts arising you are encouraged to focus your attention back on your breath as a focus point. Eventually the mind is calmed by attention to the breath and the ability to focus attention becomes easier with practice.
  • Active meditation (Using sound, guided meditation, walking meditation) For example, guided meditation involves a process where participants meditate in response to the guidance provided by a trained practitioner either in person or via a sound recording comprising of music or verbal instruction, or a combination of both. This type of meditation is ideal for visual learners  or people who learn best through sight. In contrast, walking meditation is ideal for people who are typically restless and with high energy types or for people with injuries that prevent them from sitting comfortably. It involves slow walking paying attention to all five senses.

Some benefits of meditation include:

Emotional Wellbeing:

  • Lessens worry, anxiety and impulsivity
  • Lessens stress, fear, loneliness and depression
  • Enhances self esteem and self acceptance
  • Improves resilience against pain and adversity
  • Increases optimism, relaxation and awareness
  • Increases mental strength and focus
  • Improve memory retention and recall
  • Better decision making and problem solving
  • Improves overall mood and emotional intelligence

Physical Wellbeing:

  • Improves breathing and heart rate
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • More longevity
  • Lessens asthma and inflammatory disorders
  • Lessens premenstrual and menopausal syndrome
  • Improves immune system and energy levels

So how does meditation work?

Firstly, meditation helps to switch from the stress response in the body (fight or flight), where the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is activated, to the rest and digest response activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). Our SNS helps us to respond to stress by speeding up our heart rate, constricting blood vessels, decreasing digestive activity, raising blood pressure and sending adrenaline throughout the body. The stress response prepares the body to fight or run which can be helpful if there is an actual emergency however, this often isn’t the case and often the stress response is activated where physical action is unnecessary. Prolonged stress can result in chronic supression of the immune and digestive systems and trigger anxiety and depression. The good news is we can learn to switch to the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) by activating the vagus nerve, through meditation and slow breathing.  

Secondly, our diaphragm is connected to a nerve group called the vagus nerve also known as the 10th cranial nerve. This nerve group connect to various parts of our system including the belly, the heart, the throat, and the end of the diaphragm. The main function of this nerve group is to active the PNS or we could say bodily functions leading to relaxation. When this nerve group is not active or well toned managing stress is extremely difficult. As we breathe deeply into the belly during meditation the range of motion increases in the diaphragm, which stimulates the vagus nerve sending a message to the brain to activate relaxation and calm. The vagus nerve is also connected to the heart. When we breathe into the belly and the vagus nerve is activated, one of the direct consequences is that the heart rate is slow down.

Thirdly, meditation positively influences heart rate variability (HRV) balancing the SNS and PNS.  This important because steady, rhythmical fluctuations in heart rate and good heart rate variability are the basis of well being. When our autonomic nervous system (ANS) is well balanced, we have a reasonable degree of control over our response to minor frustrations and disappointments, enabling us to calmly assess what is going on when we feel insulted or left out. Effective arousal modulation gives control over our impulses and emotions. As long as we can stay calm we can choose how we want to respond. Individuals with poorly modulated ANS are easily thrown off balance, both mentally and physically. Since the ANS organises arousal in the body and the brain, poor HRV (that is a lack of fluctuation in heart rate in response to breathing)- not only has negative effects on thinking and feeling but also on how the body responds to stress. Lack of coherence between breathing and heart rate makes people vulnerable to a variety of physical illnesses such a heart disease but also mental health problems such as depression and PTSD.  

Typically, most meditation techniques advocate a daily practice of least five minutes in the morning and evening, building up the duration of meditation over time. However, in the early stages of learning meditation, roadblocks can be common, with people reporting:

“My mind is always racing, so I can’t do it”

“I’ve tried to meditate and it didn’t work”

“It’s just too difficult”

“I don’t know what to do, just sit there?”

Regular practice with an experienced meditation teacher and attending group classes can be helpful to overcome these obstacles.

For further details on links to scientific articles on the benefits of meditation:

http://liveanddare.com/benefits-of-meditation/

—YouTube Link Vagus Nerve https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpCdqoWRoD4&list=PLPSPqfuv_mRhpEhYr1kF0XWrRxrM8wLca

—B. A. van der Kolk, et al., “Yoga as an adjunct treatment for PTSD.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 75, no. 6 (June 2014): 559-65

—B. A van der Kolk The Body Keeps Score (Penguin: London, 2014)

—P. Ogden, Trauma and the Body (New York: Norton, 2009).

—I. Kabat Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living. How to Cope with Stress, Pain, and Illness using Mindfulness Meditation (Piatkus Books: London, 2013)

For regular meditation classes and training:

http://stillnessproject.com

Author: Angela Curtis (Provisional Psychologist)

Email: angela@theresiliencecentre.com.au

BREATHE

When somebody we love is rushed, fearful, or stressed, a common thing to say to them is “Breathe”.  It may sound a bit weird considering we are breathing all the time but it’s not weird at all; it’s profoundly good advice.

Breathing is easiest when we are “in the moment”.  Attending fully to what we are doing at the present time.  Not being critical or judgemental about what’s happening or how we or anyone else is doing it; just, simply, doing it.  An enhanced version of this which contributes greatly to our wellbeing is when we are so attentive to what we are doing that hardly anything can distract us.  This is known as “flow” – a term coined by Mihaly Csikszetmihalyi ¹.  If by chance you’re not doing anything at all then having an “in the moment” experience would simply involve being; to observe this state and participate in it fully.

For many people who are living a fast-paced life and struggling with a brain that can’t seem to rest; this practice of mindfulness, which I have described above, seems near impossible.  A mere attempt at this “practicing of the present” will reveal that our breathing is more rapid than necessary and, perhaps for some, it’s a little uncomfortable.  In addition to this, the more we realise that our breathing is out of sync, the harder it is to get it back to regular.  Oh SIGH; why is it that something we’ve been doing since birth suddenly becomes complicated the very moment we need it most?

And boy do we need it!  Breathing provides us with approximately 90% of our energy thus re-vitalising us in a big way.  Yet apparently, through the way we live and our ignorance to the potential of breathing, we don’t use it to it’s full potential.  What a shame; to see a free, renewable, human energy source sitting there under-utilised.  How can this be?

Many reasons, but here is one simple take on it.  Often when we are stressed or anxious we are blaming ourselves or thinking very hard about how to “fix it”.  Alternatively we might be thinking about how to “flee it” as the physical symptoms are certainly not pleasant. So whether it’s fight or flight, this is what keeps the brain on high alert, making us exert more energy than what is appropriate for the situation. And this is when we unconsciously breathe faster.  So when the advice from a loved one comes in to “breathe” they are simply meaning “breathe slower”.

So what can we do? How can we change our programming for the benefit of our physical and mental well-being?  Firstly, AWARENESS is an almighty step.  Awareness that we need to slow down our breathing and to make it deeper, quieter and more regular. Secondly, PRACTICE. Practice deep breathing a few times a day to remind your brain that it doesn’t need to be on high alert all the time.  The health benefits are endless ² and the mind benefits mind-blowing.

Here’s an acronym I created for BREATHE that might guide you:

B: Be (ie: cease doing).  This practice is not to be multi-tasked; all devices off.

R: Resist the temptation to fidget or give up.  It’s a new skill and you’ll need to focus.

E: Enter in to the present moment and establish a pattern for your breath.

A: Attune to that simple sensation of the breath going in and the breath going out.

T: Think of nothing but the here and now.  Breath going in, breath going out.

H: Hang out and sit there a while.  Start with 3 mins and extend it as it gets easier.

E: End it when you planned to.  Small bits of practice at a time, don’t over-do it.

 

1: https://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VJVHcp7xmg

Other interesting and practical reads associated with this topic:

http://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/docs/ACF3C65.pdf
http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/07/22/reduce-your-anxiety-this-minute-3-different-types-of-deep-breathing/

 

Sarah Piper is a Registered Psychologist at The Resilience Centre in Sydney. Find out more about Sarah by clicking here.

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Written by Ivette Moutzouris

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition, you have to meet certain criteria to be diagnosed with this disorder. It is important to understand this because increased awareness of OCD has also been met with more people thinking they have OCD when in fact their obsessions and compulsions may not be frequent enough for the diagnosis.

OCD is essentially characterized by the existence of obsessions and compulsions but not necessarily both. In regards to Obsessions they usually are recurrent, persistent and intrusive and lead to increasing degrees of anxiety because these thoughts are not usually welcomed. As a result most people will try to reduce or suppress these intrusive thoughts through avoidance behavior or engaging in a behavior they have grown to believe will neutralize the thoughts and reduce the anxiety.

Another component of OCD is of course the presence of compulsive behavior. These rituals or compulsions are often repetitive behaviors or mental acts and can include behaviors such as hand washing, repeated checking, repetition of words/prayers and a need for pattern and symmetry. Another significant obsession which is less common but still present is the existence of obsessions around unwanted sexual thoughts, blasphemous thoughts, and acts of violence. It is important to remember here that these thoughts are unwanted by the individual and in no way means that they will act out on these thoughts. In fact the opposite is usually the case and that is why these thoughts can cause an increasing amount of anxiety and distress. It also is a reason why individuals with OCD will often avoid getting help because they are embarrassed or ashamed of these thoughts.

Another characteristic is that the obsessions and /or compulsions take up a large amount of time. Usually more than 1 hour daily but on average can spend up to 6 hours a day on obsessions and 4 hours daily on compulsions.

There are also related disorders to ODC which share obsessive/compulsive characteristics and they include Hoarding disorder , Exoriation (Skin Picking) Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Trichotillomania (hair pulling) Disorder.

It is important to note that we all experience intrusive thoughts and some of these thoughts are similar to thoughts that people with OCD struggle with. However the difference is that we learn to ignore or dismiss the thought if they are irrational and if the thought does cause distress/anxiety it is because it is rational in nature needs to be addressed. In comparison OCD thoughts are irrational and at the core they are ‘ego-dystonic’ which means they are not in line with core beliefs about the self and others.

OCD doesn’t only involve an internal struggle and a behavioural problem but it can also impact your ability to work effectively, socialize appropriately and generally interfere with day to day functioning.

The causes of OCD are still not definitive but the general idea is that it could be related to neurobiological, behavioural, cognitive and environmental factors. It can begin in early teens although children may also exhibit some signs of the disorder and it can last a very long time.  With adequate treatment which may involve a combination of medication and therapy a person with OCD can learn to rewire the brain and challenge some of the irrational beliefs that keep the behaviors and thoughts alive. We know that about 80% of people diagnosed with OCD are unlikely to improve without some type of help. At present the best non-medication treatment to help with OCD symptoms appears to be a cognitive behavioral approach. This involves challenging the irrational thoughts by a combination of cognitive and behavioral strategies. Medication alone does not appear to have long lasting effects compared to this therapeutic approach.

 

Purton, Christine & Clark, David. 2005. Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Adam, David. 2014. The Man Who Couldn’t Stop. Macmillan Publishers Limited.

 

 

 

NOBODY’S PERFECT!!

Perfection. Wouldn’t it be nice? We have all heard of it and many of us desire it, but what are the consequences of embarking on a pursuit for perfection?

Firstly, it is important to distinguish between adaptive (helpful) and maladaptive (unhelpful) perfectionism. We have all heard the words, “yeah they’re a total perfectionist”. Maybe this was in reference to a school assignment being handed in the day before it was due or perhaps a night out with the fellas was missed in order to get a good night’s rest for an early start the next morning. These are examples of adaptive perfectionism, which reflect motivation, forward planning and self-belief. In contrast, maladaptive perfectionism involves self-criticism and unrelenting standards that can significantly impact ones performance, professional attainment and social and emotional well being.

Let’s think about Jack, who is in Year 11 and trying to start his English essay due next week. Each time Jack sits down to start his essay he feels his stomach sink and muscles tense. His hands start to tingle and he notices his heart beating in his chest. Jack’s mind starts racing and he finally says to himself, “I can’t do this”, and slides his books off the table. We can see that Jack’s essay has triggered a strong emotional reaction, which may suggest unhelpful perfectionism characterized by several common negative thinking patterns:

Crystal-balling: Jack predicts what will happen next, that is that the work won’t get done.

Generalizing: Jack attributes his present difficulties to reflect poorly on his global capabilities.

Catastrophising: Jack believes that he may get dropped a class, receive a detention or never achieve admission into TAFE or University.

Black/white: Jack thinks that his assignment will either come together easily and he will “succeed”, or he will fail miserably.

Emotional reasoning: Because Jack feels anxious, it must be a disaster!

Ultimately, in this moment Jack has forgotten the times when he handled similar situations and his ability to engage in work now has been impaired by worry about what may happen later.

Perfection may be characterized by:

  • A tendency to put off important things, even when this causes distress;
  • Avoidance of unfamiliar or challenging situations where performance may be evaluated;
  • A sensitivity to feedback and evaluation;
  • Becoming upset, irritable and anxious about making mistakes; and
  • Giving up on tasks easily or getting delayed by a tendency to start things over.

Now, we can ALL relate to the above examples from time to time, however when unhelpful perfectionism becomes a problem one may experience:

  • Heightened stress, anxiety and low mood;
  • Decrease motivation;
  • Procrastination and avoidance;
  • Guilt for putting things off;
  • Poor time-management and disorganisation;
  • Needing frequent reassurance from others;
  • Reduced immune system and more frequent illness;
  • Reduced productivity and goal attainment.

So how may we reduce unhelpful perfectionism?

  • Be mindful of your ‘self-talk’. Particularly when under stress, don’t hesitate to take out your metaphorical magnifying glass if you need to challenge the evidence and helpfulness of your thoughts;
  • Never forget the many shades of grey in life. Keep perspective and acknowledge that failure is a healthy and necessary part of life;
  • Celebrate success, but regularly praise and reward your efforts;
  • List the benefits and consequences of your perfectionism;
  • Set SMARTY goals, (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-Framed and Yours!)

A note on reducing perfectionistic thinking and behaviour in children:

  • Encourage perseverance and reward effort. This enables children to push themselves beyond their comfort zone by reducing the perceived consequence of “failure”, therefore fostering emotional resilience and helping a young person to keep some much needed perspective;
  • Discourage competitiveness and foster individuality. For example, bolster personal strengths and interests;
  • Promote balance between social, academic, physical health and recreational activities;
  • Teach systematic problem solving, planning and organizational skills; and
  • Be mindful of what you are modelling through your direct and indirect communication, because children are extremely observant!

And remember…..

“YOUR ONLY COMPETITION IS YOURSELF YESTERDAY”

Greatness can only develop by successfully responding to adversity. Our role models teach us that risk is necessary for learning and thus, failure partner’s success. It takes courage to step into the unknown, perseverance to stay there and humility to graciously accept defeat with self-kindness. So how will you celebrate the achievement of your next ‘failure’ and look upon this as undisputed evidence of your own pursuit for excellence?

Mathew Pfeiffer, Registered Psychologist at The Resilience Centre