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How You Can Help Your Child Avoid Unhealthy Perfectionism

How You Can Help Your Child Avoid Unhealthy Perfectionism

As parents, we want our children to be successful. However, in today’s day and age it seems increasingly hard to meet higher and higher standards when it comes to performance in school, sports, and other extracurricular activities. According to the American Psychology Association, many teens also reported feeling overwhelmed (31 percent) and depressed or sad (30 percent) as a result of stress which can be related to achievement standards. 

Unhealthy levels of perfectionism has been associated with a host of physical and mental health challenges among teens including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), eating disorders, anxiety and depression, and even suicidal thoughts.

So, how do we help guide our children to do their best without being overwhelmed or placing too much value on societal success? 

  1. Encourage and give praise that fosters a growth mindset rather than perfection. A growth mindset is one that encourages learning and bettering their current level of knowledge and skills rather than aiming for one certain score or achievement. Parents can say things like, “As long as you’re trying your best, we’re proud of you” or “Is there anything we can improve on next time?”
  2. Value balance and learn to prune. Extracurricular activities have a very positive impact on children’s lives through social and physical activities. However, they can quickly become overwhelming if your child is involved in multiple activities, year-round activities, or an activity every day of the week. If your child is exhibiting stress symptoms, learn to focus on finding balance between extracurriculars and family time, focusing on what they enjoy most and “pruning” off some activities that aren’t a favorite.
  3. Define realistic expectations. Make sure your child knows that while you want them to succeed, their success is independent of someone else’s, especially another sibling’s. 
  4. Encourage open dialogue. Let your teen know that they don’t need to be afraid to let you know if they’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. 
  5. Always remind them of your core values and beliefs, and clarify where achievement levels in their daily activities factor in to these. For many of us here at APA, we believe that true belonging and love comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we make that the focus of our lives, the other worldly matters are not as dire.


For questions or any other concerns, Augusta Pediatrics can be reached at (706) 868-0389. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only.


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