You probably are already using good techniques to encourage your child to learn to accept that mistakes are okay and that everyone makes them. When you see him make a mistake, telling him in a gentle voice, “That’s okay,” “Just keep going,” or “Don’t worry about that” can help plant thoughts in his mind that he will eventually come to have on his own.
It is very important for you to learn to read your child’s frustration level in order to choose the best technique. Very mild frustration in your child’s perfectionism calls for a very mild technique on your part. As she becomes increasingly upset, your techniques will increase in intensity, such as in the list below:
• Set the tone at the beginning that mistakes are fine and not to worry about them.
• Interrupt her perfectionist thought pattern by asking if she would like to move on.
• Encourage her to evaluate her mistake by asking what it has to look like before she is happy.
• Encourage her to take a five-minute break and do something fun.
• Create a brief distraction you are certain she will respond to
(e.g., let the dog in for her to pet, give her a favorite treat to eat).
• Ask what you can do to help her.
• Ask if she would like you to take it from her so she can stop thinking about it and do her other work instead.
• Give an empathic warning that if she can’t stop and move on, you will take it from her so she can stop being so upset and that you will let her come back to it later.
• Take the work from her and direct her to take a break.