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Moving Past Perfect: How Perfectionism May Be Holding Back Your Kids (and You!) and What You Can Do About It Paperback – March 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Tom Greenspon has made a great contribution to the parenting and child development field with Moving Past Perfect. He describes perfectionism’s many faces and explains the many paths that lead there. More importantly, he provides solutions.”—Dr. David Walsh, author of Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids and Why Do They Act That Way?

Moving Past Perfect offers insight for families who struggle with perfectionism. One of the book’s gems lies in the clear distinction Dr. Greenspon makes between striving for excellence and perfectionism. Too often families convince themselves that their children’s perfectionistic tendencies are nothing to worry about since they are achieving so highly. Dr. Greenspon gently guides families into understanding that while striving for excellence may lead to high achievement, perfectionism actually inhibits performance.”—Kristie Speirs Neumeister, Ph.D., president of the Indiana Association for the Gifted and associate professor, Department of Educational Psychology, Ball State University

“Few people understand perfectionism better than Tom Greenspon, whose insight and clinical expertise come from years of case study. Moving Past Perfect provides readers with a very informed perspective on a very important matter. I encourage you to read this book and to keep it on your shelf for future reference.”—Dr. Tracy L. Cross, coauthor of Handbook for Counselors Serving Students with Gifts and Talents, Jody and Layton Smith professor of psychology and gifted education, and executive director of the Center for Gifted Education, College of William and Mary

Moving Past Perfect is an eloquent and accessible description of the nature of perfectionism. I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to understand the nature of perfectionism and to anyone working to reduce perfectionistic tendencies.”  —Paul L. Hewitt, Ph.D., professor of psychology, University of British Columbia

Book Description

A friendly and enlightening guide helps parents move their kids—and their whole family—past harmful perfectionism


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Free Spirit Publishing; Revised edition (March 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1575423871
  • ISBN-13: 978-1575423876
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas S. Greenspon, Ph.D., LP, LMFT
P.O. Box 16325, Minneapolis, MN 55416-0325 952.929.1499

Tom Greenspon is a Licensed Psychologist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and author in private practice in Minneapolis. He earned a B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Illinois in 1968. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Rochester, NY, he joined the faculty of the Medical Center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham, where he was involved in teaching, research, and counseling until moving to the Twin Cities in 1977. Tom lectures and writes on a variety of topics, including couples' and family relationships, intimacy and sexuality, and the emotional needs of gifted children and adults. He is a member of several professional organizations, he has authored a monograph on adolescent-adult relationships for the Unitarian Universalist Association, entitled Human Connections, and a number of his articles have appeared in professional journals. His first book, Freeing Our Families From Perfectionism, won the National Parenting Publications Gold Award and a Parents' Choice Award, and has recently been updated and re-released as Moving Past Perfect: How Perfectionism May Be Holding Back Your Kids (and You!) and What You Can Do About It.
Tom is married to Barbara C. Greenspon, M.A., his partner in the private practice of psychotherapy with individuals, couples, and families. Over the years, they co-founded the Childbirth Education Association of Greater Birmingham, they were advisors to Unitarian Universalist youth groups on local and national levels, and they have co-taught courses on human sexuality. Both are certified as sexuality therapists and educators, and they are charter members of the North American Menopause Society. Tom was co-chair of the 2003 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association Division of Psychoanalysis and has served on the Board of that Division's Section on Couples and Families. He currently teaches the course, Couple Therapy: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Sensibility, at the Minnesota Institute For Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.
Tom and Barbara are former co-presidents of the Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented and served on the Minnesota State Advisory Committee for Gifted. They are former program psychological consultants for the Concordia Language Villages. Tom is the recipient of the 1998 Minnesota Council for the Gifted and Talented Award for Distinguished Service to Gifted Individuals.


Greenspon, T.S. (2014). Is there an antidote to perfectionism?. Psychology In The Schools, 51, (9), 986-998.
---- (2014) Perfectionism: What's A Teacher To Do? Voice (Minnesota Educators of The Gifted And Talented), Fall Issue, 4-5.
---- (2012). Moving Past Perfect: How Perfectionism May Be Holding Back Your Kids (and You!) and What You Can Do About It. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing
---- (2011). Perfectionism: A counselor's role in a recovery process. IN: Tracy Cross, Ph.D. & Jennifer Riedl Cross, Ph.D. (Eds). The Handbook for Counselors Serving Students With Gifts and Talents: Development, Relationships, School Issues, and Counseling Needs/Interventions. Waco TX: Prufrock Press.
---- (2010, November). The pivotal role of gifted self-experience in performance and emotional health. Audio: presentation at the 57th Annual Convention, National Association for Gifted Children, Atlanta, GA.
---- (2008). Making sense of error: A view of the origins and treatment of perfectionism. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 62, (3), 263-282.
---- (2007). Some further thoughts on perfectionism. Parenting for High Potential. December. 16-17.
---- (2007). Desire, vulnerability, and interweaving worlds of experience: An intersubjective systems sensibility in couples' therapy. Group, 31 (3), 153-170
---- (2007) What to do when "good enough" isn't good enough: The real deal on perfectionism. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing.
---- (2006) Test phobia, depression, and a core identity of giftedness: Jason's story. Counseling and Guidance Division Newsletter, 2, (1) 1-2, National Association for Gifted Children.
---- (2006) Getting beyond perfectionism. Gifted Education Communicator, 37, (1), 30-33.
---- (2004). Being me and fitting in: The dilemma of giftedness. Duke Gifted Letter 4, (3) 1-2.
---- (2002) Freeing Our Families From Perfectionism. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing.
---- (2000). Perfectionism: An Intersubjective View. Psa Today, 3 (4) Psychoanalytic Foundation of Minnesota.
---- (2000). "Healthy perfectionism" is an oxymoron! Reflections on the psychology of perfectionism and the sociology of science. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, XI, 197-208.
---- (2000). The self experience of the gifted person: theory and definitions. Roeper Review, 22, 176-181.
---- (1998). The gifted self: Its role in development and emotional health. Roeper Review, 20, 162-167
Plucker, J.A., Robinson, N.M., Greenspon, T.S., Feldhusen, J.F., McCoach, D.B., and Subotnik, R.F. (2004). Its not how the pond makes you feel, but rather how high you can jump. American Psychologist, 59, (4), 268-269.

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ndyanabo on December 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Obviously, I had high hopes for this book, but it's not really all that useful. If you're into parenting books to the point that you're zeroing in on a book on perfectionism, chances are that you've already read books that conveyed the ideas expressed here. I found the ideas quite general (e.g. enthusiasm vs. praise, letting go of power struggles, empathy, emotional connection, etc), and not really geared toward perfectionism. I just read Madeline Levine's book, which was much broader, but gave a much better sense of what's going on with my kid even though it didn't focus on perfectionism.

Under the heading "the many wellsprings of perfectionism", he has: the dysfunctional family, neglect, too much praise, giftedness, different children/different reactions, and mutual influence. None of those comes close to my family's situation. He also dismisses biology outright. Now, I'm an cultural anthropologist, so I dislike biological explanations, but I wanted to see some discussion of dealing with innate behaviors, that aren't disorders (which he does discuss). He treats perfectionism as a general state of being -- there was nothing about kids who have INTENSE moments of frustration, which my kid (age six) has has always had. How should I react in the moment to him? How do I talk about it afterwards? How should I prepare him ahead of time? Questions not answered in this book. Really, my kid's perfections is about him, not his relationship to others or the society at large, which is more how Greenspon sees it.

Good luck with your kids, people. Let me know if you find a book that that you like!
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By Beth C on March 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Loved reading it. Many intriguing passages. Haven't tried them all out yet, but looking forward to doing so. Hopefully the intended will cooperate.
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By jamie anderson on July 3, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent book
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