Are you the parent of a perfectionist child? If so, you’re likely well-acquainted with the challenges this can pose. From academics to athletics to just everyday tasks, your child’s need for everything to be perfect can often get in the way of them achieving their full potential. In this article post, we’ll explore some of the common problems perfectionism can cause and offer tips on how to help your child break free from its grip.
What perfectionism is and how it can negatively impact children
Perfectionism is a trait that includes working excessively hard to make sure tasks are done correctly and setting perfectionist standards for yourself. It can lead your child to become unsatisfied with anything they do, even if it’s good enough.
Perfectionist children tend to take too much time on tasks because they need to feel like they’re always doing their best. This can lead to perfectionist kids missing out on important activities because the stakes are so high for them to succeed at everything they do. Perfectionism can also be associated with feelings of inadequacy, clinical depression, anxiety and even self-harm in some cases.
How perfectionism can lead to procrastination
Procrastination is the tendency to wait until last minute to start or finish tasks, usually because perfectionist kids are afraid of not doing something well enough.
The dangers of pushing children to be perfect
Life as a perfectionist child is exhausting and stressful. Pushing perfection can lead perfectionist children to feel scared of failure and ashamed when they’re unable to meet their parents and their own rigid standards.
Perfectionism can also lead perfectionist kids to become anxious about what others think of them. This can manifest as social anxiety or even school refusal.
How perfectionism can hurt perfectionist kids in the long run
The desire to be perfect leads perfectionist children to become stressed and unhappy. Perfectionism is linked to depression and other mental health problems in pre-teens and teens. Perfectionism is also associated with anxiety issues, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and an unhealthy body image.
What to do about your perfectionist child
Perfectionist kids may need a little more help from their parents to break free of the anxiety it causes them.
How to help your child deal with perfectionism
Separate the problem from the person
Most kids (and even adults) find it difficult to separate themselves from a problem. This causes them to believe they “are” the problem and therefore experience low self-esteem.
Setting realistic expectations for your child
It’s important to set realistic expectations for your child. If you want them to make a perfect score on a test, they may wind up feeling disappointed in themselves if they don’t. Strive for progress instead of perfection.
Celebrate your child’s accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem
Even if your child isn’t perfect, celebrate their achievements. Reward them for something as simple as doing chores or finishing homework on time.
Let your child know you’re proud of them even if they don’t succeed 100%. Celebrate what they do accomplish instead of focusing only on the things they’ve failed to achieve.
Encourage your child to take risks and learn from their mistakes
Perfectionism can cause children to be afraid of failing and therefore lead them to avoid trying new things. Let your child know it’s okay to fail sometimes, and that growth comes from taking risks and learning from their mistakes.
If you’re the parent of a perfectionist child, we hope this article has given you some helpful tips on how to help them break free from the grip of perfectionism. For more information and resources, be sure to download our free printable below. And if you have any questions or want additional support, check out our Imperfection Guide.