Whether you grew up striving for straight A’s, or you spend your work time stressing about the most minor of errors, you may recognize perfectionism within yourself. Many people have this ingrained in them since they were children trying to meet impossibly high standards of parents and teachers. Unfortunately, as these behaviors carry on into adulthood, they can have a profound effect on your mental wellbeing. This can trickle down to your children as well.
While there are many who believe that striving for perfection is the only way to be successful, the opposite is often true. Perfectionism can be exhausting and can cause significant mental stress—both for you and your child.
Holding yourself to unattainable standards can lead to procrastination over a fear of failure. When something feels unattainable or near impossible, it can be difficult to even get started. This can cause you to agonize over small details and leave you unable to appreciate your accomplishments. All of these things can be true of yourself at home or in the workplace. And children are not immune to the stresses that perfectionism can bring. School, activities, athletics and home life are all areas where children may feel the need to be perfect.
If you’re someone who has struggled with thoughts and anxiety around perfectionism, there are strategies you can use to help bring your expectations of yourself to a manageable level. Likewise, if you notice these behaviors in your child, consider learning more about stress management in order to help them overcome these often harmful tendencies. Modeling flexibility and acceptance of your own flaws will help decrease your stress levels. It may also help your child avoid perfectionist behaviors in their own life.
One major way that you can combat your inner drive to be perfect is to look at the big picture. By zooming out and minimizing the details, you may be able to see that what you are stressing over is not worth the mental anguish. Try asking yourself the following questions next time you feel the need to accomplish something perfectly:
Taking time to slow down and think about each of these questions can help to ease stress in the moment. Over time, adopting this mindset will help to hold off anxiety around perfectionism. This may help you to decide which details are worth focusing on, and which can be left behind. Modeling this more flexible way of thinking not only helps you, but is a small step toward helping your children create healthy thought patterns of their own.
If you’re looking for more information on this and many other parenting topics, make sure to check out our calendar for all of our upcoming Live Interactive Workshops.
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