Psychologist: Self-critical Child Could be Showing Obsessiveness
Oakland Press, December 15, 2005
For more articles like this
Q: My son is 11
years old and in the sixth grade. Dwayne is an excellent student
and never gives us a problem at home. My concern is that he is
overly neat and very self-critical. He always thinks he could
have done things better, even when he receives an A at school or
praise for something he has done at home.
What can I do to help him relax and feel better about himself?
A: Dwayne’s behavior and attitude toward himself are descriptive
of someone who is perfectionistic, demanding of himself and
needs to constantly seek proof of his self worth.
These traits and behaviors can serve to motivate achievement
when they are at moderate levels of intensity.
However, at high intensity, these same traits can immobilize a
person or create so much worry and self-consciousness that the
person functions well below their potential. In extreme cases an
individual may have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Symptoms
of OCD include compulsive rituals, repetitive checking,
obsessive thoughts and reliance on routines and sameness in the
environment. Dwayne’s behaviors appear to be troublesome but are
not interfering in a significant manner with his ability to
function on a daily basis.
You might be able to help Dwayne by encouraging him to focus
more on the positive efforts he is making and less on the
outcomes of his efforts.
For example, praise the time and energy he puts into doing yard
work, not the appearance of the yard. Comment on his positive
preparation for a test, not the grade he receives. By focusing
on the process — how you go about doing something — rather than
the product, you can help Dwayne learn to be more focused on his
positive behavior and less preoccupied with outcomes.
Take time to examine your behavior and attitudes. Are you
demonstrating behavior that is a good model of self acceptance?
Are you flexible in the standards you apply to yourself and
others? Do you offer Dwayne affection and approval that is not
dependent on what he does or achieves?
Your school’s social worker, counselor or psychologist are good
resources to support you in your efforts to help Dwayne. They
could supply you with specific ideas related to your situation
and also discuss these issues with Dwayne’s teacher. If you do
consult with school staff, tell Dwayne what you are doing and
why you are meeting with school staff.
Be positive and reassure Dwayne that the meetings are
confidential, will include him when appropriate and that you
will keep him informed of any plan that will affect him.
Richard Brozovich, Ph.D., is a licensed school psychologist for
Oakland Schools. Write to him at: The Oakland Press, 48 W.
Huron, Pontiac 48342.
back to the top ~
back to Breaking News
~ back to