Perfectionism in Kids

Does your child struggle with having to be perfect? Society standards and expectations are high for our kids, we have to do better than the other kids, win every game, make the winning goal, get all A’s in class, always look presentable. This messaging is teaching them they have to be perfect to be accepted and successful.

Now, the goal is not to get rid of the perfectionism, because we want kids to have that as a motivator. It only becomes an issue if it impedes on their daily life and causes them anxiety. 

So anxiety with perfectionistic tendencies could look like:

  1. Not wanting to go to school or refusal to make mistakes in school work
  2. Refusal to try something new in fear of failure or looking bad
  3. Constantly asking and questioning for reassurance: “did I do this right?” “I’m really good at this aren’t I?” “I got the best grade in the class, didn’t I?”

The best thing you can do as a parent of a child who has anxiety with perfectionistic tendencies is to encourage trying over outcomes. And what I mean by that is encourage them to try new skills, still put themselves out there regardless of the outcome. Don’t focus on the outcome even if they win or get a good grade. Say, “you did your best, you really put everything you had into it!”

Avoid using the word “perfect” like “Oh, that’s perfect!” to a drawing or an art picture. That messaging is saying to them, it has to be perfect for you to like it.

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