A child may be an overachiever if he feels an impulsive need to get perfect grades and be on top of everybody else in his class. At first glance, it would seem that being an overachiever is no problem at all. What’s wrong with being on top? Is there anything wrong with wanting to be the best? It’s perfectly normal to feel that way. However, if this desire to be on top affects someone mentally, physically, emotionally and socially, then it becomes a problem.
I often read – and become angry – about people who push their children too hard, living a sort of vicarious life through their children’s achievements. Much advice is given for these parents to slow down and allow the children more freedom.
But what to do when it’s the child herself who pushes too hard?
On the 31st of August my child was ill, so ill that I wanted to withdraw her from her ballet exam scheduled for that afternoon. She was adamant she was going to take the exam. At the RAD Hall, her teacher said she looked very ill and asked her if she was sure she wanted to do it; the child said yes.
When she came out after her session, she was pale and poopy. I thought she was going to collapse and drove to Doctor Neighbour’s rooms at high speed. He prescribed strong meds and booked her off school for a week, insisting that she stay in bed.
Yesterday the exam results came through; she achieved 64%; a pass with Merit. We congratulated her and she burst into tears; all she kept saying was that it was the very first time she hadn’t got a Distinction. There was no consoling her.
I am sure my mother would have known what to say. For my part, I could only tell her that I was proud and try to put things in perspective. Pumpkin fritters are a fail-proof method of drying tears. And watching the rescue of those Chilean miners made her own drama seem not so great after all.
Perhaps I’ll be able to convince her to bunk ballet class this afternoon; we’ll go and throw the Frisbee for the dogs in the park instead.