Maureen walks around on edge when hosting a party. She moves things over and over to make sure everything looks in order. She straightens a pillow when people get up. The meal is timed perfectly and everything looks beautiful. Every glass is full. Her party is a success because everything was perfect. Maureen is a perfectionist.
Looking in, you might want to praise Maureen as a great hostess. But behind the scenes, there’s an unseen story. The reality is that Maureen’s behavior makes her kids feel overwhelmed as they try to meet their mom’s standards.
Other perfectionists, like Maureen, may look like they have everything all together, but there is a big price to pay for those high standards. Being a perfectionist means you have anxiety, trouble relaxing, and people around you can be greatly affected by it, especially your kids.
If you are a perfectionist, your child may feel one or more of these:
1. They feel stressed
Perfectionists tend to have trouble settling down and relaxing. They are like energizer bunnies always seeking a way to be productive. It is often hard for them to relax unless everything is done- which never happens. Being around an anxious perfectionist can be contagious. Try to be intentional and take a step back to relax. Here are 20 super simple ways to help you get started. This will help both you and your kids enjoy the moment more and de-stress.
2. They feel controlled
Because a perfectionist has such high expectations, they often voice how they want things to be to those around them. Living with a perfectionist can feel like you are living in a world with eggshells. Kids feel on edge wondering when they will mess up next and what will happen if they do. If you’re a perfectionist, it’s important to let some things go. Don’t make your kids live in your neurotic perfectionist ways. They are likely to continue the cycle and grow up to be just like you.
If you’re a perfectionist, it’s important to let some things go. Don’t make your kids live in your neurotic perfectionist ways. They are likely to continue the cycle and grow up to be just like you.
3. They feel criticized
Some perfectionists struggle with correcting others who don’t meet their standards. Some do it non-verbally and just follow behind their kids re-doing all they try to do. Others let a critical comment come out which can feel like a put-down. A perfectionist may believe they should do everything if they want it done right. This can make kids not feel valued or competent. Be careful of the message you send to others if you are a perfectionist; it might make someone shut down and feel not good enough in your eyes.
If you notice yourself getting stuck in this common trap of perfectionism, here are some more ways to help.
Confession time, what area do your perfectionist tendencies come out the most?
Teri Claassen is a Jesus follower, wife to Dan, mommy to one boy and one girl, a foster mom to kids in need, and a therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling in Tampa, FL.