First, let me tell you the Miriam-Webster Dictionary definition of an Overachiever.
overachiever: one who achieves success over and above the standard or expected level especially at an early age
That definition makes it sound like a good thing. It can be if it is handled right. Yes striving for goals and dreams is great. I encourage it, but there is a fine line. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be the best of the best. To have the drive to accomplish goals set. The issue with that is an overachiever is more focused on reaching the finish line than reaching their goals. Another drawback for an overachieving child is it can lead to serious emotional issues. Those emotional issues can affect them their entire lives. So I am going to discuss the 8 signs your child is an overachiever so you can recognize them before it’s too late.
What Made Me Curious
Recently I have been asking myself is my child an overachiever? The reason I started wondering is that everything has to be exact no matter what he is doing it has to be perfect. Not too long ago he got a passing grade on a test, but it wasn’t a 100. So he proceeded to completely shut down. As I watched my 6 year old go through this process I got a little nervous.
I started asking myself questions like “Am I being too hard on him?” and “Is me telling him he is absolutely perfect making him feel like he has to be perfect?” Trust me I had about a dozen questions running through my head and quickly started questioning my parenting skills. Do I want him to do well in his life? Of course, I do, but I know there is a difference between being an Overachiever and a High Performer.
I started doing some digging and I didn’t really see any articles that I could relate to about a child who is an overachiever. What I did find is that it all stems from childhood so why not nip it in the butt when they are kids instead of letting it spiral out of control. Knowing that I couldn’t be the only Mom that worries about her child’s mental health and overall happiness I decided to write about it. I am going to tell you the signs to look out for and give you some tips on how to counterbalance them in a loving way.
8 Signs Your Child a Overachiever
- High Expectations of Themselves – Nothing is enough for them they absolutely have to have every detail perfect.
- Self Criticism – They have high standards of themselves, so when things don’t go exactly as planned they meltdown. You will see them say horrible things about themselves. Like “I am the worst” or” I can never do anything right”
- The Next Big Thing – They are never satisfied and once they accomplishments. They are always seeking to beat there last accomplishment. No time to enjoy the moment its all about finishing the next big thing.
- Guilt – The feeling of guilt overwhelms them if they take a break or are not working on a project. If you try and get them to take a break and have some fun they will quickly fill that time with tasks and chores to accomplish.
- Afraid to Fail – Failure is not an option. If they fail at something it will have them spiraling into the never ending whole of not being good enough. No one want to have there child think that they are not good enough, but over achievers fear this most. They will perfect a skills instead of making mistakes and learning from them.
- Eager to please – An overachiever learns at a young age that achievements will get them love and approval from others. So in there little minds they think that in order to receive that love and approval that every human craves they have to achieve something in order to be worthy of it.
- Emotional – They are emotional on the inside and it never show it until something goes wrong. Then it turns into a complete freak out before you even know what happened. Holding in negative feelings and lashing out when sh*t hits the fan.
- Perfectionist – Everything has be perfect, right down to the last detail. They will push, push, push until they are absolutely satisfied everything in the project and life is perfect. They will sacrifice self-care in order to perfect whatever it is that they are working on.
Now that you know the signs to look for is your a child an Overachiever?
There are ways to change that overachiever mentality into being a High Performer mentality. This is where how to lovingly guide their kicks in. First, let me tell you what a High Performer is. High Performer is focused on reaching their goals, but they care a lot more about how well they perform. This involves then caring about themselves and others which are qualities that parents approve of. To be able to take a goal see it through and enjoy the learning process and journey. The biggest difference is the happiness of your child.
Here are ways to guide your child from being an Overachiever to becoming a High Performer
- Lead By Example – Believe it or not they are watching you. Everything you do and everything you say they are listening, watching and mimicking. You are the the example so set a good one.
- Take a Step Back – So if they don’t do well on a test instead of being disappointed and chastising them take a step back. Think how it made you feel when your parents did it to you. Then proceed and talk to them about it. Find out what they might need help with or maybe it was just a bad day. We all have them no need to make them feel bad about it. Now don’t get me wrong if they are consistently bringing home bad grades than you need to take action in a calm way in order to help them grow and learn.
- Practice Self-Care – So everyone has there self-care or mental health days. Mom’s go to the Spa, Dad’s go out with his buddies, what about the kids? Yes the run around and play with there friends, but an overachiever doesn’t do that they are to worried about finishing the project. So you need to show them it is ok to take breaks, to reward there study session with a ice cream sundae or a few hours at the park. Without those breaks your overachieving child is going to burn themselves out.
- Friends and Socializing – So Overachievers tend to let their relationships suffer because they are so focused on a goal. Get them to socialize and hangout with friends. Spend time with the family because what they will discover that inspiration and ideas usually come from socializing. It will also make them realize that they have people who will support and help them on their journey. Making it a lot more fun and rewarding at the end of the day.
I want to say love them unconditionally. No matter what the outcome at the end of each day and the start of each morning let your children know they are loved. Say it out loud, because all they are looking for is your approval and love. They don’t have to be perfect because no one is making sure that you tell them that life is about adventure and to enjoy it.