In my 6 Steps To Overcome Perfection, I was talking about how to overcome perfectionism for yourself and in this second part, I want to talk about how as parents can help with perfectionism in children.
There's a big difference between perfectionism and attention to detail and wanting to do a good job. I want to teach my kids not to give up and always to give it their best without them thinking they have to be perfect.
I want my children to know they are loved, regardless of what we say or do, and if they perform well or not. That’s why, I've made a conscious effort to tell them this every night: "I love you no matter what, even if we are angry with each other, happy or sad, it doesn't matter what you say or do – I will always love you!"
The scary thing is that it’s how we handle the situations now, that will influence their decisions as adults. If we only reward or show our kids positivity when they’ve achieved something, and get upset or perhaps constantly correct them, if they don’t perform, they will quickly associate being perfect with being loved.
To me, what matters is that they try their best and don’t give up easily. Your child might not have a talent for grammar, but if she studied and really tried, but still didn't get the best grades, we need to try to acknowledge and praise the effort and not the outcome instead.
By introducing positive affirmations, you can help your child combat perfectionism. Teaching your kids to speak kindly to themselves, you are giving them the tools needed to be able to believe in themselves and bounce back from challenges more easily.
Consciously choosing to affirm positive beliefs can help break negative habits so that you and your child can embrace your own unique and special qualities and maintaining a positive outlook on life.
How can you recognize if your kid tends to be a perfectionist?
If you recognize those signs in your child, it can be challenging for both of you, because seeing your kids struggle can make you feel helpless. I know it often makes me feel this way. But don't worry, you're a fantastic parent already by being aware and wanting to make a difference!
Here are some ways you can help your little ones:
1. Show them, unconditional love
No matter what they do or if they "fail", tell them that you love them no matter what, even if they did something wrong. We aren’t our actions, they were just a wrong decision that can be worked on.
3. Listen to what your kid has to say
We tend to sometimes not listen to our children because we might be stressed, or it doesn’t seem essential for us as to what they have to say. But no matter what they tell you and when they tell you, try to be a good listener and don't give them the feeling of, it's not important. The next time it could be crucial, but they've learned earlier, it's not to you.
4. Try not to compare with other children
When we use other kids as an example of "being better or doing the right thing", the message we're sending to our kid is: "You're not good enough." To try your best not to compare with other children and let them be themselves.
5. Teach them to revise, start again, and learn from their ‘learnings’.
It can be very challenging to get the balance right between being too competitive and just giving up. Even though your little one might never be a pro footballer, he also shouldn't give up trying to be best he can! Try to find the right balance by praising the effort they’ve put in and assuring them that it's not about how many goals they score and instead point out the great effort and that practice makes us as better. If we work hard enough, we can be what we set out to be.
6. Use relaxation techniques
Perfectionism, the feeling of failure and not being good enough often cause stress and anxiety. You can help your kid to calm down and let the pressure go by using relaxation techniques.
You can find some examples, click here »
7. Help them setting realistic standards
You know your kid might not be the next Einstein, so help your child to set healthy and realistic expectations. An A grade might never happen, but with lots of work and not giving up, a C can be done! And it would be absolutely beautiful. Once again, it’s the effort that counts.
8. Help them to prioritize tasks
Your perfectionist kid's brain is often absolutely overloaded. She wants to do it all and get it right. Which, of course, doesn’t always happen. You can help your child by writing down a list of these tasks, and help them work through the importance of prioritizing them.
9. Tell them about your own ‘learnings’
By showing them some of your learnings (remember, I spoke about rephrasing words like "failure" into "learnings" in 6 Steps To Overcome Perfectionism. You helps them see that it's normal to have setbacks and how we can grow from them. Explain how you got up, corrected your crown, and walked away with knowing you tried your best and learned from it.
10. Help them not to judge themselves and others
If your kid is outstandingly great in something and you realize he or she is bragging about other kids who aren't, we should not encourage it. Try to explain with an example, how this kid feels and why your kid thinks that it's a bad thing not to be the best.
Being a parent means being a good example. Therefore, we have to check ourselves towards our tendencies to perfectionism. Being a perfectionist is a learned behavior. Our children learn from what we do, not only from what we say, and they see more than we think.
Like me, you can take this opportunity and learn together with your kid to overcome perfectionism, help each other. And because you're already so conscious about your perfectionism, you might feel under pressure not to do it perfectly with your child. Please relax, because by being aware you're already doing so much, and you will see, if you work together with your kid, it'll help you both and can strengthen your relationship even more.
With our Affirmation Cards, you can practice positive affirmations daily in a playful way. They even work with my husband!