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Idealism & Perfectionism

IDEALISM is a product of the gifted intellect: a vision of what is possible, what could be. It is a positive quality - the driving energy that propels a gifted person forward towards achievement. Problems arise when idealism becomes perfectionism: when what could be becomes what should be - an imperative!

And the gifted child

Perfectionism can be observed in even very young gifted children because of the lack of synchrony between their intellectual and physical development. For example, a three year old gifted child can see in her five year old mind what she wants to build, but her three year old fingers cannot do it and so she screams in frustration.

The gap between a child's advanced intellectual capability and more age-appropriate social and physical skills can lead to unrealistic expectations for performance by both gifted children and their parents and teachers.

Adults expecting social maturity to match high level intellectual development may label a highly articulate, logical child as a behaviour problem when he or she exhibits an age-appropriate tantrum.

And the gifted adult

Perfectionism can also be applied to the gifted self. Ideal standards of thinking and behaviour are set that propel gifted people towards higher level self development.

However, problems can arise when they are not able to live up to these standards and blame themselves for not being good enough.

Gifted people rarely realistically compare themselves with others. Instead they tend to think of what they know in relation to what there is to know on any given subject and find themselves lacking. They are highly self critical and over reactive to the criticism of others. They express dissatisfaction with themselves; they see what "ought to be" in themselves and they can be unhappy with "what is". They have a vision of perfectionism that they measure themselves against and they can become despondent sometimes even depressed, at their perceived failure.

To be effective in life, gifted people need to understand that it is OK to be an idealist but that resources, including time, are not unlimited and therefore perfection is not possible. Also, that while ability may be innate, skills are built up over time by experience. It is important for their self-development that gifted people explore the process of learning in life and not only focus on the outcome of specific events.


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