Perfectionism Is Poisoning Our Teens: The 5 Mistakes Parents Must Avoid

Is your teenager in a constant “struggle” to do better and do more? Is he/she trying to excel in school, in sports, and in social life?

Is he/she struggling to balance schoolwork, extracurricular activities and family time?
Alongside other teens worldwide, your child is trying to reach perfection and living with a fear of making mistakes, but at what cost?

Because of the busy world we live in today, teens are on an ongoing journey to meet the demands of academics, friendship, sports, social media, and family.

Of course, it’s normal for people, especially youngsters, to strive for better and more. But, is perfectionism the only way towards genuine happiness and success?

Experts agree that parents often expect too much from their children with zero tolerance to mistakes and failures. However, making mistakes and failure is a part of growing and perfectionism may bring more harm than good.

This is especially the case with teenagers because they have not yet developed the necessary skills and coping mechanisms to cope with the stress and pressure associated with perfectionism.

According to Azmaira H. Maker Ph.D, a licensed clinical psychologist and publishing author, perfectionism has become so involved in our lives that demanding it from ourselves is not considered unusual.

However, in some teens, expecting nothing but the best from themselves may be more than they are equipped to handle and lead to tiredness, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Therefore, it’s critical that both parents and children understand the distinction between good and bad perfectionism. A parent should encourage and motivate his/her children, but also teach them that their sense of worth is not connected to their performance.

This must-read report will help prevent you from encouraging the wrong type of perfectionism in your child.

Perfectionism Is “Poisoning” Our Teens

Though you may find it surprising, perfectionism can be your child’s weakness, rather than his/her strength. For people with high standards, perfectionism may seem like the ideal situation; however, it can lead to some very negative outcomes.

Many people associate perfectionism with high standards, attention to detail, and dedication to greatness. But, perfectionism is not as beneficial as we think.

In the words of Brene Brown, a researcher from the University of Houston, perfectionist children grow up being praised for their good performance and achievements by their parents and teachers.

Unfortunately, this belief system teaches them that they are what they achieve and how well they do it, rather than their efforts.

Perfectionism is a person’s tendency to place high standards for oneself and others and it can be negative or positive, according to Owen Kelly, Ph.D, Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Professor at the neuroscience department at Carleton University.

A person with a healthy level of perfectionism is goal-oriented and has good organizational skills and strives to do better. But, he/she does not get overly upset or disappointed when they do not fulfill their plans or when they do not perform flawlessly.

They take their mistakes on board as a lesson learned in order to do better next time. A mere stumble if you like, in the marathon of life.

On the other hand, unhealthy perfectionism or extreme perfectionism is linked with excessive preoccupation with mistakes from the past, ongoing fear from future mistakes, constant doubts, and concerns about others’ expectations.

When in a chronic state of fear, one’s stress and anxiety levels significantly increase. Moreover, this type of perfectionism has also been linked with depression, OCD, self-harm, tiredness, insomnia, eating disorders, and headaches.

Parents Encourage Unhealthy Perfectionism in Children

As parents, it is completely normal to encourage our children to do better in different areas of life, but things can go pear-shaped if our kids develop a compulsive need to do everything perfectly.

A perfectionist child will begin to fear making mistakes and think that this will diminish their worth. And, parents may often encourage unhealthy perfectionism in their children without being aware of it.

Here is how we are nurturing unhealthy perfectionism in our children:

5 Ways that Parents are Encouraging Perfectionism

1. Not sharing their mistakes
Children with severe perfectionism believe that others around them are ideal. And, when parents fail to talk with their children about their own failures and mistakes in life, their child will try to model that unrealistic perfection and never settle for anything less than ideal.

But, no one is ideal and mistakes can often be the biggest teachers in life. Talking openly about your flawlessness in front of your children can have a potent effect and show them that making mistakes is part of our human nature.

2. Not teaching them how to lose
Losing is part of life and children need to know that it can happen to them too. But, when children do not know how to lose and fear that they will fail, an easier alternative is often giving up.

However, as parents, we need to encourage them to practice and not give up easily, despite the possibility of losing.

And, always emphasize that better things come when we work hard.
Do not forget to explain that it is acceptable and normal to lose and that losing has nothing to do with how smart or how talented they are.

Point out loss may not be a pleasant feeling, but it is still a lesson. Winners learn from their mistakes.