Perfectionism in Teens: 5 Ways to Manage the Need to Be Perfect

Some teens feel an innate need to excel in everything that they do. While this may seem like a good thing, it can actually be quite damaging to a teen’s emotional and mental health. As a parent, you can step in and remind your teen that it’s okay to take a step back every now and then. Here are 5 ways you can help your teen manage their need to be perfect.

Put the Value on Effort and Hard Work

When it comes to praising your teen, make sure you focus on praising their effort and hard work rather than gushing over results and outcomes. While you and your teen should be proud of their straight A’s, their top sports performance or their lead role in the school play, focusing solely on their results may put pressure on your teen to keep working to achieve perfection. Instead, praise your teen’s persistence, hard work and effort, as your words will encourage your teen and help them feel positive and in control.

Talk to Your Teen About the Dangers of Perfectionism

Sports Perfectionism Eating Disorder Teen

Image Credit: Luka Radikovic

Teens may think their need to be perfect is harmless, but recent research begs to differ. The Review of General Psychology recently released a study which found that perfectionism can be extremely destructive and can lead to overwhelming anxiety, eating disorders or depression, and can even be an overlooked risk factor for suicide.

Help Your Teen Gain Perspective

Many perfectionists struggle with black and white thinking, which means they believe the outcome of whatever they’re working on will either be wonderfully good or terribly bad. Help your teen understand that the catastrophic consequence they’re imagining is most likely much more drastic than the reality of the situation. Help your teen understand that making a mistake doesn’t mean they’ve failed and that plenty of famous and successful people like Walt Disney, Michael Jordan and Thomas Edison went through lots of failures and difficulties before they found success.

Be a Healthy Role Model

Sometimes teens show perfectionistic tendencies because they see the same behavior in their peers and family. Make sure you’re able to be a healthy role model for your teen when it comes to managing expectations and stress by taking pride in your work, not hiding your mistakes and being open about your own struggles with perfectionism and how you’ve overcome them.

Ask Your Teen What Drives Their Worries

Teen Perfectionist Studying Parent Role Model

Image Credit: Snapwiresnaps

Sometimes perfectionism can be a sign of a deeper rooted problem. Gently ask your teen why they feel they need everything to be perfect all the time. Is it because of peer or family pressure? Is it to help them manage their anxiety? Is it because they feel they’re not good enough? Your teen’s answer may be able to help you determine if they could benefit from professional help, like counseling or therapy.

Perfectionist teens feel as though they need to do perfectly in everything in order to succeed, but these feelings can lead to problems down the road. By helping your teen manage their need to excel, you can help them remember that nobody’s perfect and it’s okay to make mistakes.

Feature Image: Snufkin