Advertisement

What advice can I use to help my perfectionist child?

Michele Borba
Psychology

Often kids feel so much pressure that they become obsessed with doing everything perfectly. Perfectionist kids are more at risk for emotional, physical as well as relational problems. Here is parenting advice to help kid perfectionists survive, cope, and thrive.

 

Teach stress busters. Show your child a few simple relaxation strategies such as taking slow deep breaths, listening to soothing music, walking, or just taking ten and lying on the couch to help improve her frame of mind and reduce a bit of that intensity—at least for a few minutes.

Help your child handle disappointment. The inner dialogue of a perfectionist is self-defeating. “I’m never good enough.” “I knew I’d blow it.” So help your child reframe his self-talk by teaching him to say to a more positive phrase that’s less critical and judgmental and more reality-based such as: “Nobody is perfect.” “All I can do is try my best.” “I’ll try again next time.” “Believing in myself will help me relax.”

Start a family mantra. One way to help your child realize that mistakes don’t have to be seen as failures is to come up with a family mantra such as: “A mistake is a chance to start again.” Or: “Whether you think you can or that you can’t you’re right.” Then pick one phrase and say it again and again until your child “owns it.” You might even print out a computer-made sign and hang it on your fridge.

Teach “Take a reality check.” Perfectionists imagine something horrid will happen if they hit the wrong note, don’t hit the high beam, or don’t make the standard they’ve set for themselves. Your role is to challenge their views so they don’t think in such all or nothing; black or white thinking, and help them dispute the belief. For instance: Kid: “I know the moment I pick up my pencil I’m going to forget everything I studied all year.” You: “That’s never happened in your entire life. Why now?”

Remember, the parenting goal is not to change your child, but to help her learn coping skills and expectations that will reduce her self-made pressure. Stress stimulates some kids, but it paralyzes others. So tune into your child.

The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries

More About this Book

The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries

Today show's Michele Borba's cures for difficult childhood behaviors In this down-to-earth guide, parenting expert Michele Borba offers advice for dealing with children's difficult behavior and hot...

Continue Learning about Parenting

How to Find the Best Pediatric ER Near You
How to Find the Best Pediatric ER Near You
First off, ask your pediatrician, of course. But do some detective work, too. Start by calling or stopping by the hospital to speak with the director ...
Read More
How can I teach my child morals?
Michele BorbaMichele Borba
Studies find that kids are most influenced by those persons toward whom they feel the strongest ...
More Answers
The Scoop on Baby Poop: 5 Hues and What They Mean
The Scoop on Baby Poop: 5 Hues and What They MeanThe Scoop on Baby Poop: 5 Hues and What They MeanThe Scoop on Baby Poop: 5 Hues and What They MeanThe Scoop on Baby Poop: 5 Hues and What They Mean
Here’s what’s common, what’s not—and when to call the doc.
Start Slideshow
Heidi Shares Her Meal-Planning Tricks
Heidi Shares Her Meal-Planning Tricks

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.