Parents naturally have a desire to want to see their children excel in their activities. But what if a child’s drive to excel is more than just a desire, but an incessant need for perfection? This is when we as parents need to step in and help our children learn to cope with their stress and perfectionism. Here are some useful tips that may help.
Talk to your child about what is causing the stress
If possible, help them take a break from the stress by doing something fun or hanging out with the family for a short time and then going back with a clear head. Have your child keep a journal. Writing is therapeutic and can help a child work through stressful feelings.
If the stress is caused because of an event such as a test or a speech, help and encourage your child to face the stressful situation with confidence
Help your child learn relaxation techniques
such as slow deep breaths, listening to soothing music, going for a walk, or lying down on the couch for a few minutes to clear their head.
Help your child understand that things are not always black and white
As a perfectionist myself, this was a hard concept to grasp. I thought that if I was not perfect, I was a failure. Life is not like that and this is the kind of reasoning parents must help their children overcome.
Challenge your child’s beliefs and reasoning
If they say, “I am going to completely forget my solo and the entire auditorium will laugh at me.” You say, “You have never forgotten a solo and the entire auditorium has never laughed at anyone the entire time we have attended your concerts.” Help them understand the flaw in their thinking.
Help your child understand the impact of negative thinking
and teach them positive self-talk, such as, “Nobody is perfect.” “No one is good at everything.” or “Everyone makes mistakes.”
Print out positive quotes about mistakes and put them up
on the refrigerator or in your child’s room. These could include, “The greatest mistake you can make is to be continually fearing you will make one,” by Elbert Hubbard; “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new,” by Albert Einstein; or “Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response to the error that counts,” by Nikki Giovanni. These quotes will serve as a reminder to your child that mistakes are OK, and will give them permission to make them without feeling like a failure.
Help decrease procrastination by teaching your child to prioritize
and by breaking things down into manageable tasks that they can accomplish without feeling overwhelmed. Often times, a child’s fear of failing keeps them from even starting.
Keep a schedule and teach your child to schedule
If your child knows they are limited to two hours to write their paper, it will stop them from agonizing over it all night long.
Help your child set realistic expectations for themselves — and make sure you are setting realistic expectations for them as well
Help them understand that the expectation of 100 percent all the time is unrealistic and that no one can continually achieve that. Teach your child to ask the questions, “What’s the worst that could happen?” “What’s the best that could happen?” “What is the most likely?” These questions will help them put things into perspective.
Keep yourself in check
Make sure that your child is not receiving stress and perfectionist characteristics by following your lead.
Make sure that your child gets plenty of sleep, exercise, and a well-balanced diet
A well-balanced body better houses a well-balanced mind.
Stress and perfectionism can be debilitating for children. But with the help of loving and supporting parents, and with the proper balance and guidance, a child with perfectionist tendencies can find great happiness and success.
A parent basically has to muddle her way through the 18-plus-year adventure, rubbing her eyes from the sleep deprivation. When you approach a mother in the wild, go easy. And maybe avoid these observations or questions when talking to a mom of teens.