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What constitutes the 'perfect kid'?

Published July 12. 2014 09:00AM

Let me start out by saying this no one is perfect.

However, some parents would take issue with that remark. They have honestly convinced themselves that their offspring are perfect.

A reader recently wrote this to me "I am so tired of listening to parents tell me that their child is gifted. There can't be that many gifted children in this world."

Dear reader, there is a method for identifying gifted children. It takes a professional using a battery of tests to determine "giftedness." Just because a parent thinks her little darling is gifted doesn't make it so.

Plus, a gifted child is NOT a perfect child. He may be smart or talented or creative, but those traits do not make him perfect. Once again, no one is perfect.

I'm sure that most parents would believe that their child is special. Indeed, parents should feel that way. After all, their child is a direct reflection of them. Only a negative-thinking mom or dad would constantly find fault with their child.

There is a happy medium between a parent who thinks her child is perfect and a parent who thinks her child needs constant improvement.

Take a trip to a youth athletic competition. Watch the parents. The mom and dad who cheer on the whole team and give supportive comments are behaving in a healthy way.

The parents who are shouting out instructions, negative comments and demeaning their child by their behavior are in need of an education. Perhaps they think their child should be perfect. Too bad. Not possible. Get over it.

A friend of mine has a daughter who gets straight A's in school. When the kid came home with her first B, the father threw a hissy fit and told her that she was grounded until she brought the grade up to an A.

My friend asked my opinion. I told her that her husband was wrong. The daughter should be congratulated for doing well. A punishment for a B is silly. Staying perfect with all A's isn't usual. There will be a subject that is harder, a teacher who is harder or a time in the child's life that is more stressful.

When a parent demands perfection from a child, disappointment is inevitable.

I am not saying that parents shouldn't be concerned if grades drop. However, a realistic attitude is important. One B does not signify a problem. Give the daughter a big hug, tell her that you are proud of her, and remind her to do her best.

Throughout my years in education, I found it interesting to counsel parents about their child. There were many times that I needed to remind the mom and dad that their child required their constant support and love. But that support should be realistic. The parents ought not to expect their child to achieve perfection.

You may have a gifted child. You may have an extremely talented child. You may have a child who turns out to be a star athlete.

But, down deep inside, the most wonderful thing you have is a child who loves you, needs you and wants to please you. To me, that is perfection.

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her email address: or in care of this newspaper.

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