Some gifted students may set such high goals for themselves that they are constantly disappointed in the products they produce -- picking apart flaws apparent only to them, when their parents and teachers are marveling at what the student has created. "Many feel that all projects and activities must be absolutely perfect" (Davis, 2006, p. 32). Gifted kids "know the difference between the mediocre and the superior. Once they see how something 'ought to be done'...they may naturally want to do it that way" (Delisle & Galbraith, 2002, p. 65).
"Perfectionism means that you can never fail, you always need approval, and if you come in second, you're a loser" (Delisle & Galbraith, 2002, p. 64).
What Teachers Can Do
Teachers sometimes confuse perfectionism with the pursuit of excellence, which is actually something quite different. Perfectionism can block a student's ability to try -- and fail -- and try again. Pursuing excellence means being able to learn from your mistakes, while perfectionists feel they are not allowed to make mistakes. What teachers can do is support their students to persist, even if the child is convinced of "failing." They need to be taught that failure is okay, and is as valuable a teaching tool as success (Delisle & Galbraith, 2002, p. 65).