• Deirdre Brandner

How To Manage Perfectionism

What is Perfectionism?

Perfectionism is often mistaken for ‘being perfect’ or ‘doing something perfectly’. Many people assume that it must be a good thing. Other people think of being a perfectionist as being something negative and embarrassing.

Perfectionism in Children

The messages children receive and hear about success, achievement, and failure play a role in how perfectionism starts. The temperament of a child also plays an important role, with children who are highly sensitive and prone to anxiety, becoming more likely to express perfectionism.

How can I tell if my child is a Perfectionist?

One of the features of perfectionistic children is the distorted and rigid ways in which they tend to think.

They may also...

  • Over generalise when they fail (“I’m dumb”),

  • Display black and white thinking (“if I get this wrong, I will be a complete failure”)

  • Focus on the negatives while discounting the positives (“I messed up every ball in that game, I played terribly

  • This then fuels self-critical beliefs in turn avoidance behaviours as they are less likely to “have a go” if they believe that they will fail or that their efforts are not good enough.

How can Parents help

  • Children learn about developing resilience, perseverance from watching those around them set goals, shift the goalposts and cope when things don’t quite go to plan.

  • Setting high standards for yourself can have a multitude of benefits for children, however, be mindful of the pitfalls.

  • Showing your children how you ‘have a go’ and model the enjoyment and learning that it brings when you do have a go’ will help them navigate and cope with their challenges in life.

  • Normalise mistakes, let them know that everyone makes them and that what is important is having a go. They need to hear from you that having a go is more important than the outcome.

  • Talk openly about your own mistakes and encourage teachers and coaches to do the same. Model making mistakes and your coping reactions in response. Discuss with your child the positives which come from making mistakes

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