Social Stories on Perfectionism

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

If you are trying to teach your students to worry less about perfectionism, social stories can be a big help. This lesson offers social stories you can modify to meet the specific needs of your students.

Teaching with Social Stories

Do you have students who spend a lot of time worrying about getting their work just so? Perfectionism is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be an impediment to completion and efficiency. Perhaps more importantly, it can cause incredible anxiety for some students, getting in the way of their sense of identity and competence.

This lesson provides social stories you can use to teach your students about perfectionism. Social stories provide scripted language from the point of view of a hypothetical student, with the goal of giving students explicit phrases and strategies they can draw on when coping with a complicated social situation. Though social stories are often used with students who have diagnoses on the autistic spectrum or other language delays, the ones offered here can also benefit any student who struggles with perfectionism. You can modify the details of these stories to meet your students' needs.

Perfectionism at School

When I am at school, I like to work hard. I work hard on reading, I work hard on writing, and I work hard on math. I am proud of what I can learn and do when I really try my best!

It is hard for me to finish my work at school sometimes, though. The reason it is hard is because I do not like having any mistakes. I like everything I do to be just so. I want my work to be perfect. This is called being a perfectionist!

It is good to care about my work, but being a perfectionist feels stressful. I am learning that as long as I try hard, it is okay when my work is not perfect. Sometimes, it is better to finish my work instead of worrying about making it just so.

If my work is not perfect, I can say to myself, 'This is good enough.' If I start to feel worried about it, I close my eyes and take a deep breath in and out. I remind myself that my teacher cares about me and wants me to finish my work so I can move on. She does not mind if my work has a few mistakes.

Sometimes, if I find myself being a perfectionist, it can help to get up and walk away from my work for a few minutes. I go to a quiet corner and think about how good it will feel to be done. I close my eyes and picture what I will do next. Then, I go back to my work, finish it, and bring it to my teacher.

It is good to care about my work, but I know it does not need to be perfect.

Perfectionism Outside of School

I like to do a lot of different things outside of school. I like to play soccer, practice karate, and make pottery. I like to spend time with my family and my friends.

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