Sometimes one little word can seem as real as the monster at the next turn. My 4 year old is slightly obsessed this week at looking at videos and pictures of the Yeti from the Disneyland Matterhorn ride. You know that monster with red eyes and long white fur that is roaring at you as you whiz past on the rollercoaster. Well my afraid-of-everything, shy girl just gets a kick at look at the Yeti’s abominable face. Go figure!
I’ve also been exploring how my words are affecting me and my kids. I’ve been catching myself saying “perfect!” in response to my girls doing something I approve of, or completing a task correctly, or when I finally manage to brush their hair. I use the ‘p word’ with myself too. The party planning has got to be perfect, the handwriting in my thank you note (I’ve got some pitiful penmanship these days) or I actually rocked a pinterest recipe the way it looks in the pics.
But I’m slowly realizing that the concept of perfection is not serving me. It’s not possible and it’s ruining my fun trying to achieve it. And what message am I sending to my daughters about how to be in the world? You are only good if you are perfect?
Perfectionism is my personal Yeti. It doesn’t exist yet it’s screaming at me at every turn.
So I’ve started my own little self-management plan to get that word out of my habitual response vocabulary. Here is how I am doing it:
- Setting the intention with myself that I am not going to use the word as much. I did that by just thinking about it and committing to being aware of it.
- Be aware of the words that fly out of my mouth. Seriously, the words that come out of my mouth I don’t even remember thinking…it’s the reflex test at the doctor where your knee just flies up.
- Catch myself when I hear it flying out of my mouth. So I can count over the last week that a congratulatory “perfect” in response to a task my child has completed has left my face 6 times! Oh Lord, almost once a day.
- Don’t beat myself up about it. It’s a process to unlearn stuff, un-train your brain. Being aware of it is a huge step.
- Look at the situations that trigger perf-shizzle. What about that situation makes that word arise? Can you be aware the next time that type of situation arises and prevent the word from bubbling up?
- Choose a different word. After you got a hold of the situations that trigger it, you can choose a different word.
So I’m in the process of replacing “perfect” with “well done”, “nice”, a smile, or a “whoop whoop.” Whatever. I feel good that I’m accepting my daughters in the moment for who they are without imposing unnecessary labels, demands or plain ‘ole mom-guilt crap. It’s a perfect plan. Ah geez, there I go again!
Do you use the word perfect with your child? Leave a comment below with your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you.