Your Teen is a Perfectionist: These 4 Tips will Help

Being called a perfectionist is relatively common. It’s less common for us to consider the impact perfectionism may have on a teenager.

Does your teen get excellent grades, but at the cost of a high stress level? Or, do theyget poor grades because she waits until the last minute to complete her work?

Perfectionism is often a form of anxiety that’s overlooked because it is socially acceptable, and even frequently praised by peers and adults. Perfectionism can also contribute to procrastination, as the task seems too overwhelming to start, much less finish, because either the task seems to large (making it difficult to begin) or because of the risk of not doing the work perfectly.

Does any of this sound at all like your teenager? Would you like to help reduce or prevent this destructive habit?

Here are four things that you can do as a parent to help your perfectionist teen build confidence, manage stress, and tackle obstacles in a positive way.

1. Focus on who they are, not on their achievements or mistakes

It is difficult for teens to see their own worth separately from what they can do well and/or what others think of them.

Your love and approval of her must be in no way contingent upon successes or failures. You can be a safe haven from the comparisons and judgment that they are surrounded by in the world.

For example, rather than “Good job!” try “You have so much patience and persistence!” as this puts emphasis a personal quality that they possesses rather than on the quality of what they produced.

2. Model managing stress in healthy ways

If you are constantly overwhelmed, it has an impact on your teen. If your emotions are unpredictable and you tend to be reactive, your teen will create a habit of trying to predict the future and avoiding conflict.

Model observing and accepting your own feelings and behavior, rather than judging or feeling fearful when noticing feelings and behavior.

Perfectionism often is fueled by impatience, both their own impatience and yours, so keep that in check – not only toward them, but toward yourself – be more patient.

Rather than being hard on yourself for being reactive, focus on what you can do to set yourself up for success in the future.

3. Encourage your teen to engage in something that takes practice

Help your teen find a fun or engaging way to practice breaking down a task or an experience into steps (such as a creative outlet like a sport, musical instrument, or art class).

These type of tasks require practice, and they won’t turn out perfectly every time!

Having these skill-building experiences will help them when they need to tackle problems in other areas (such as school or relationships). Work will no longer appear as one large task but as many small steps that complete one project.

4. Help them sort through thoughts and track progress consistently

Perfectionism causes your teen to gauge progress sporadically. They will on what isn’t good enough, only noticing the risks and not the benefits. Your teen will feel unable to take steps forward toward a goal and fear making a mistake. A perfectionist teen views a mistake as a huge failure.

A therapeutic space offers a way to explore and understand how to build confidence and positivity from the inside out. A therapist will help your teen focus and value their work without procrastination and perfectionism.

Help your teen find healthier ways of accomplishing goals and engaging in the world.

Contact me with any questions you have about your teenager and your desire to help her be healthy and succeed.

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