I Give Up

How the Ada Twist, Scientist book and TV series can help our young perfectionists with failure, teamwork, and persistence

1 min read

When I decided to write my book, it surprised me how little research about perfectionism in young children existed. And limited research means limited treatment options. How this trait develops and presents in early childhood is a growing area of interest and studies are happening, but what do we know now? What can parents do while science catches up?

The first answer is to provide our children with love and support. Let them get out their frustrations. Hold them if they will let you. Try what we did, and ask, "Tell me the tricky part." But they need more. They need a guide. Imagine you are leading them through the jungle. Hold their hand and show them how to clear the path. They trust you. They watch your moves and try to replicate them.

Modeling is a well established teaching practice in early childhood. It is called different things: role modeling, copying, teaching by example, imitation, but as Albert Bandura, famed social psychologist, points out, in many languages the word for "teach" is the same as the word for "show." Bandura's theory is that human behavior is learned observationally, one observes how something is performed and that information is coded for later use.

Real life models (parents, teachers, coaches, etc) can show healthy ways to cope with perfection, but there's another valuable tool we must utilize.

Learning also happens through fictional book/TV/movie characters, known as symbolic modeling. Today as I was watching the television show, Ada Twist, Scientist with my kids, I heard them singing along to the song, "I Give Up." The book series is fantastic and the Netflix series is equally great. Ada Twist is a young girl who, with the help of her friends, uses the power of the scientific method to discover answers to life's challenges and mysteries.

The lyrics to I Give Up are amazing, but especially important to our little perfectionists. It reminds them that in order to succeed, you have to keep trying. "Mistakes can be lucky breaks, a happy accident along the way."

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