Teen Stress: Fighting Perfectionism
If you've got a kid who's fighting perfectionism, or if it's a personality trait you're dealing with yourself, there are a number of strategies you can employ on your own to begin changing for the better. Here are just a few ideas that might help you out:
Let them be average for a day. Encourage your kid to allow himself to be messy, late, incomplete ... imperfect. Then celebrate his success.
Get your kid involved in activities that are not graded or judged—activities that focus on process, not product.
Help them take a risk. Have them sign up for a course with a reputation for being challenging. Challenge them to start a conversation with someone they don't know. Encourage them to do an assignment or study for a test without overdoing it. Alter their morning routine. Let them start a day without a plan.
Give them permission to make mistakes—at least three a day!
Ban the word "should" from their vocabulary. And make them remove the phrase "I have to" from conversations—and from their conversations with themselves.
Ask them to share a weakness or limitation with you. Help them recognize that you don't think any less of them as a result.
Help them acknowledge that their expectations of themselves might be too high, or even unrealistic.
Savor their past accomplishments with them. Encourage them to write about how good they made them feel.
Help them "cure" their perfectionism. Maybe you can give them a sign or a word when you notice them being a perfectionist.
Encourage them to join the human race. It's less lonely when they accept their own and others' imperfections and feel part of life.
If you think they need more help, encourage them to talk with a school counselor or psychologist. They should explain their situation and ask for suggestions