"In the Middle"

GATE Grades 5-8 Winter 2016

Perfectionism--Is it healthy or unhealthy for your learner?

In January, the GATE parent workshop focused on perfectionism. Knowing when to recognize healthy or unhealthy perfectionism in your student can be crucial to their continuous learning. "Healthy" perfectionism centers on goal setting and high standards for one's self, with attention paid to the development of growth in a specific area. A person who acknowledges themselves as being a healthy perfectionism attributes their tendencies as being helpful, making them more organized or becoming a harder worker.

"Unhealthy" perfectionism also involves high standards, with an expected result(s). One's self-concept becomes tied to the work that they produce and the perceived high expectation from self, peers, teachers, co-workers, bosses, etc. While both healthy and unhealthy perfectionists can suffer from depression, unhealthy perfectionists tend to harbor more feelings of guilt, anxiety, and low work effort. This can cycle into procrastination and underachievement.

Perfectionism cannot be eliminated completely or within a matter of days. But developing a growth mindset and resiliency to manage perfectionist tendencies can occur. Psychologist Martin Seligman and his colleagues have developed the ABCDE Model for stress management. Following these steps may help nurture resiliency in students.

A (Adversity): Acknowledging we all have events that will cause stress.

B (Beliefs): Identify the beliefs we all hold about ourselves and how the world works around us. Ask yourself: Why did this situation happen? Was it me or not me? Is this situation permanent or likely to pass? Is this just a disruption for the moment, or will it undermined everything else in my life?

C (Consequences): Think about what will happen next and look at all possible positive and negative outcomes.

D (Disputing): Challenge the beliefs related to the situation. Are these realistic? Would another person's perspective be the same as mine?

E (Energizing): Take action. What did I learn that was useful from this situation?

It's important to note that perfectionism exists on a spectrum and can exist in one area or many.

*Adapted from A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children by Webb, Gore, Amend, and DeVries (2007).

"I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become."

-Carl Jung


Many parents have expressed concern over their student's procrastination and how this impacts their academics and/or involvement in interests. Many factors surround why one chooses to procrastinate. For some it may simply be the thrill of working under deadlines and pressure, the natural tendency to be doubtful, or simply just over involved and forgetful.

In high-ability learners, the root source of procrastination may surround several factors. Some students struggle with the added expectations and demands of being successful. As bars and standards are raised, this may be daunting for some students. For others, it's the fear of failure. Students may have a past history of the taste of failure (perceived or not) and didn't enjoy the situation surrounding it. They avoid certain areas of their life (i.e. academic, social, etc.) because it reminds them of that past unpleasant situation. A sense of learned helplessness occurs as a result of these past challenges. Stress can also trigger procrastination. Over scheduling academic and extracurricular activities, as well as social and family situations may compound stress in a student. In some extreme cases, behavioral and emotional disorders such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders may trigger procrastination. A trained professional should be contacted in these serious cases.

To encourage students to shift out of a procrastination mode and into a growth mindset, Joanne F. Foster, Ed.D. (author of Not Now Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination) suggests:

  • Help your student find their strengths. Be understanding of what their capabilities and limitation are. Help them set realistic goals where they can achieve success within a time frame.
  • Teach skill such as organization, prioritizing, and taking on tasks in shorter segments by carving out time for task completions.
  • Take breaks. Encourage your student to take regular, short breaks for fun recreational activities.
  • Setting aside the gadgets. Having too many electronic devices and toys may provide unnecessary distractions.
  • Give reasons for time limits, expectations, and rules. When necessary, establish these with your student. Be consistent within these areas.
  • Praise the effort. Be direct and specific with your praise. Saying thinking like "I appreciate your help in _____," or "you took the time to complete ___" is more specific than something like "good job."
  • Offer guidance. When your student becomes off track, help them to understand where and why they went off direction. Take a break and then return to the task.
  • Pair feelings. Coupling a pleasant or good feeling with a more difficult one is easier to put into perspective. If a student feels guilty about completing a job, then combine it with relief or joy of starting the task.
  • Write a contract. Involve your student with creating a fair, doable "completion contract." Co-sign it with your student and date it. Follow up on the deadline you co-agreed upon and reflect on the successes and areas for growth.
  • Look for optimal times. Identify when your student is at their peak performance. Encourage your student to use these times of day to complete work they might otherwise avoid.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 12 and 15: No School

Mar. 4: No School

Mar. 18th: End of 3rd Quarter (CMS)

Mar. 25-Apr. 1: Spring Break (No School)

Apr. 22 and 25: No School

May 5th: GATE PTK "End of the Year-Cinco de Mayo" Celebration

*This is a tentative date at the Park County Library in the Grizzly Room. Please contact Mary Charles Pryor for more information.

Please check the Cody Middle School events calendar for more specific events such as band/choir concerts, Astronomy Club, etc. The link is: http://www.park6.org/calendar_events.cfm?theyear=2016&themonth=2&cat=0&location=733&buildit=1&keyword=&printpage=0&&AddSportingEvents=0