August 26, 2019
Striving for Perfection? Help Your Child Develop a Healthier Perspective
Written by Rachel Eddins
Each generation is capable of heaping too many expectations upon the youth. However, it’s probably safe to say that the current way young people find themselves striving for perfection is exhausting. Across a broad spectrum of avenues and platforms, perfectionism is being, well…perfected? And the outcomes are widespread and far from positive.
Perfection is a myth. However, perfectionism is real. Thus, it must be identified and addressed productively if we want to help our children thrive.
What Does Perfectionism Feel Like?
Imagine feeling like your life is a 24/7 report card.
This is what perfectionism feels like. Everyday life appears like a gauntlet of judges, especially in fast-paced cities such as Houston. They hold up numbers to gauge your behavior, your looks, your efforts, and even your thoughts. There’s nothing wrong, of course, with striving for self-improvement. Perfectionism, however, is more like an hourly challenge to avoid failure — at all costs.
Studies show this trait is becoming more common in this Age of Anxiety.
When we’re younger, we are far more impressionable. We crave validation and approval from adults and peers. This mindset can creep into the daily life of any child or teen. Without mentorship and guidance, it often results in a quest to be “perfect.”
Children and Perfection in the Digital Age
It’s impossible to avoid some kind of peer pressure as a young person. Many times, such societal standards are reinforced by the adults in our life. Today, things have accelerated to a dangerous new level.
Never before have children and teens felt so compelled to perform for each other (and everyone else, for that matter). The pervasive influence of sharing via smartphones and social media have raised the perfection stakes to previously unimaginable heights.
Perfectionism may manifest in something obvious like taking dozens of photos before choosing a selfie to post. But, on a deeper level, your child may display:
- General dissatisfaction, even when doing a good job
- Fear of failure which translates into a fear of trying
- Difficulty taking feedback
- Fixation on neatness and appearance
These signs — and countless others — can place your child on a path towards anxiety, social anxiety, and depression.
3 Ways to Help Your Perfectionist Child Develop a Healthier Perspective
1. Lead by Example
This means owning your own mistakes and demonstrating how you learn from such situations. Talking about your own struggles makes it easier for your children to feel comfortable enough to open up to you. Whether they admit it or not, parents can inspire perfectionism. Fortunately, they can also inspire acceptance, patience, and satisfaction.
2. Focus on the Process
Life is much more striving for perfection or moving from goal to goal. In fact, life is what happens in the process of choosing and pursuing goals. You’ll be giving your children a life-changing gift when you shift perspective like this. Teach them to get lost in the journey. This is not to say we ignore the destination. We just appreciate the path we choose to arrive there.
3. Don’t Become Too Rigid About Routines
Perfectionists crave structure. In general, such routines are helpful and even necessary. When they become carved-in-stone rules, they become counterproductive. Practice spontaneity and creativity whenever possible to show how much fun the above-mentioned can be!
Seeking Help for Yourself and Your Children
When our shared culture changes so dramatically and so quickly, it’s no surprise that most of us are left feeling lost. Old solutions may no longer feel relevant when the problems keep evolving. As a result, many parents guide their children into counseling.
Therapy sessions become a safe, nonjudgemental place where young people striving for perfection voice concerns and create solutions. In addition, parents can either join in on some therapy sessions or seeking individual counseling. We can better guide our children when we ourselves are open to such growth and evolution. Eddins Counseling Group has several child and teen therapists that can help your child manage their anxiety and perfectionism. Give us a call today at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online.