Are you the parent of a perfectionist child? Do they often feel like they can’t do anything right? If so, don’t worry – you’re not alone. In this post, we’ll discuss 8 strategies to help your perfectionist child cope with their anxiety and learn to be more flexible. Keep reading for more information!
It is heartbreaking for parents to see their kids’ potential being held back by the need to be perfect.
I’m not sure if you know this, but the first Superpower Kids Skills Guide was written to address our daughter’s perfectionism. We called it Imperfection Guide.
Thinking we have to teach our kids to be imperfect sounds counterintuitive. But if you’ve had to watch your child fail at something you know she’s capable of, you know how important it is for kids to embrace imperfection.
Here are 8 strategies to help your child embrace Imperfection:
Help your child develop healthy self-esteem. Engage in activities that help your child feel good about who she is, not just what she accomplishes. Volunteering, learning new things, doing art, are just a few ways to help your child develop a healthier view of herself.
Help your child identify what she can control and what she can’t. Whether your child wants to be the best swimmer in the school or to ace every math test, make it clear that she can’t control many of the circumstances that influence her success. She can’t control how hard the teacher marks her tests or how her peers perform, but she can control her effort.
Model healthy self-talk. Teach your child to use self-compassion as opposed to self-criticism. Have conversations with yourself out loud to show your child that you treat yourself with kindness even when you make a mistake. Say things like, “I forgot to go to the bank today before they closed. I’ll try to do better tomorrow”.
Monitor your expectations. Make sure you aren’t putting pressure on your child to be perfect. Create high but reasonable expectations. And monitor your expectations over time to make sure you aren’t expecting too much from your child.
Praise your child’s efforts rather than the outcome. Avoid praising your child for getting a 100 on her spelling test. Instead, praise her for studying hard. Also, praise her for treating others with kindness or for being a good friend. Make it clear that your approval is not contingent on her results and that achievement isn’t the only important thing in life.
Set realistic goals with your child. Talk to your child about goals she wants to reach. If her goals require perfection, talk to her about the dangers of setting unrealistically high goals for herself and help her establish more realistic goals.
Share stories of your own failures. Kids often think their parents know everything and never make a mistake. Make it clear to your child that you aren’t perfect. Tell her about the time you didn’t make the team or a time when you failed a test. Explain how you coped with your setback.
Teach healthy coping skills. Although failure is uncomfortable, it’s not intolerable. Teach your child how to deal with disappointment, rejection, and mistakes in a healthy way. Talking to a friend, writing in a journal, or drawing a picture are just a few coping skills that could help her deal with her feelings.
You can use the Superpower Kids Kinder Voice printable to teach your child positive self-talk.