It’s important for kids to strive for excellence, have high standards, and value hard work. But high standards are not the same as unrealistic expectations. When our kiddos have perfectionist tendencies or thinking, they can suffer from low self-esteem and a host of other negative consequences.
Perfectionistic Tendencies and the Impact of Perfectionism
Children who struggle with perfectionism have unrealistic standards for themselves or others. They believe that they must be perfect to be valuable and worthy of love. This can result in negative self-talk, fear of failure, relationship challenges, and even mental health issues. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia are often related to struggles with perfectionist thoughts.
Even parents with good intentions and high expectations can inadvertently promote perfectionistic thoughts or perfectionistic behavior in children who believe they must earn love by being a higher achiever.
Setting Realistic Goals
One of the best ways to counteract the negative impact of perfectionism is to help our children to set achievable goals. Healthy goal setting and healthy expectations for working towards those goals (including failures, mistakes, and setbacks along the way) can reframe the way our children think about what success looks and feels like. It can also help them change their attitude towards failures and mistakes and appreciate the positive benefit of learning from and through their errors.
Different Types of Perfectionism
Kids can struggle with self-oriented perfectionism or other-oriented perfectionism. In other words, they may expect perfection in themselves or others. When their perfectionistic traits are self-focused, it may be due to self-imposed expectations or because they believe (whether accurately or inaccurately) that others expect them to be perfect.
An important first step is to teach kids to identify negative thought patterns and help them take a closer look at their internal messages. Then, we can help them identify ways to counter their negative self-talk with alternative thoughts. This process helps move our children from a perfectionist mindset to a growth mindset!
The Raising Lifelong Learners Podcast Episode #199 – Perfectionism Strategies
Do you have a child who struggles with perfectionism or perfectionistic tendencies? In this episode, we’ll talk about how to identify perfectionistic behaviors. I’ll share some of my favorite strategies for helping our kids identify and counter their perfectionistic thoughts and patterns.
Links And Resources From Today’s Show:
- SPONSOR: CTC Math
- The Learner’s Lab
- Anxiety vs. Stress vs. Perfectionism: Helping Our Children Cope
- Perfectionism And Gifted Children: What You Need To Know
- Managing Perfectionism: 10 Tips for Helping Your Gifted Child
- RLL #81: [Audioblog] Managing Perfectionism: 10 Tips for Helping Your Child
- RLL #55: Helping Your Child Manage Perfectionism
- RLL #52: Overcoming Perfectionism and Finding Joy in Homeschooling
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