Your Perfectionist Child Needs to Hear These 3 Things


parenting perfectionism

Do you have a perfectionist in your house? My son strives for order and wants to be right all the time. He constantly thinks he has a better way to do things and doesn’t take criticism well. It’s not uncommon for him to pick an argument with his siblings and not relent until they believe he’s right. When he makes a mistake, he’ll often lie about it. I think his fear of disappointing others makes him feel like he can’t be honest.

Parenting perfectionism is difficult, but I’ve come to learn it’s not about breaking him out of a perfectionist personality. Perfectionists are typically bold justice seekers, which we need. But a child who falls into an unhealthy perfectionist mindset is likely listening to his or her inner critic more than the truth. Here are 3 things that perfectionist children tell themselves and 3 truths they desperately need to hear.

I can’t make mistakes.

Perfectionist children put a higher expectation on themselves to keep others’ criticism at bay. The idea of having someone help can make them feel less-than, making them feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. Because they think they must direct themselves, they often lie to seem like they have it all together. Our children must learn that their value does not come from their ability to do all things with perfection. They don’t need to bear the weight of the world on their shoulders.

When you’re parenting perfectionism, remind your children that everyone makes mistakes, so they can be honest about it and ask for help.

Everything must be done my way.

Perfectionist kids look to their own ideas to find true north. This means that in their eyes, all other people’s ideas fall short of perfection. My son often would have a hard time playing with his siblings because of his unwillingness to incorporate their imaginations. Our children must learn that others bring value to the table, too.

Remind your children that there usually isn’t only one right way of doing something. They can learn from others’ perspectives, too.

I can’t show the real me.

The last thing any parents would want is for their children to feel that they have to play pretend in front of them. Perfectionism in children often makes a child fear that his or her mistakes will lead to irreparable disappointment. However, children must learn that they will not be condemned for showing their true selves, mistakes and all. They can be fully honest knowing that there is love for them on the other side.

Remind your children that they are already accepted and loved for who they are here and now. They don’t have to prove themselves worthy.

What are some ways you can help your child channel his or her perfectionism in a healthy way?

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