I let my little girl pick her own outfit and do her own hair and head off to school the other day. I may still have a cut on my tongue from where I bit it in order to not tell her how ridiculous I thought she looked. The thing is, she loved it. She was so happy, so I shut my mouth, gave her a big smile and off she went. I am a recovered perfectionist and little things like this help not only me, but also help my daughter avoid some idea that she has to look or be perfect every day.
Here’s the thing, perfectionism is 1) the belief that perfect is attainable 2) striving for it and feeling bad about yourself if you aren’t living it and achieving it….it leaves you constantly feeling like you are falling short…and of course it’s constant because perfection is unattainable (this applies to everyone because you aren’t Jesus 🙂 Perfectionism leads to depression, living to avoid failure and disapproval, anxiety, attaining self-worth compared to others, and instability. Psychology today reports that perfectionism in youth is on the rise, which is probably no surprise to many of us: perfect hair, perfect body, perfect pictures on social media, perfect outfit…..conditional love. Oh this makes me sad.
From a performance stand point perfectionism just sucks the joy right out of nearly everything we do. It often leads to burnout, under performance, fear of failure, and procrastination. Sad…again.
Now, let’s take the concept of good ole striving for excellence (driven), which is so close to perfectionism it can be hard to understand the difference. Both often work very hard, don’t like losing/failing, are ambitious, driven, and are often successful. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with those things and there is nothing wrong with encouraging them.
In discerning between perfectionism vs. driven here’s what you need to look for:
- 1) How do they handle failure? Do they feel bad about themselves as a person (perfectionism) or are they frustrated because they wanted to do better (driven).
- 2) How long do they brood after they fail/make a mistake? Is it excessive (perfectionism) or do they tend to bounce back in appropriate time (driven).
- 3) Do they feel bad when they compare themselves to others (perfectionism) or do they talk about doing their personal best/competing with others to motivate to do better (driven).
If you think your youth suffers from the negative effects of perfectionism, here are a few tips to help:
- 1) Check yourself; do you show more love/acceptance when they do well and less love when they don’t?
- 2) Tell them you love them no matter what….you don’t even need a trigger event….just say it. I tell my kids this all the time (I’m hoping it will help offset all the mistakes I make :-0
- 3) If you aren’t sure what to say after they perform, you can always say “I love watching you________ (dance, swim, study, etc.). It’s a neutral and encouraging response.
- 4) Let them make mistakes even when you see it coming. (within reason/safety of course). This gives you the opportunity to show them unconditional love/acceptance and how to move on.
- 5) Ask them what they can learn from their mistakes? Show them how mistakes can actually be a good thing.
- 6) Watch and apply the Higher Power Mind Skill of Mental Filter and Strengths Bias in the CONFIDENCE Lesson with them.
Dear God, please help everyone that reads this to get a word or idea that will armor youth with the world changing power of the mind.
Higher Power Mind is a Faith Based Mental Performance Program. It is delivered through 12 video based sessions that utilize a combination of scripture and sport and human performance psychology to armor youth with the world changing power of the mind. Join Now and Get Access!