According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a perfectionist is someone that has a propensity for setting extremely high standards and being displeased with anything less. Many of us know people like this who may seem to be driven beyond reason. You yourself may very well be someone like this! When perfectionism gets out of hand, stress can result. This article offers tips for dealing with perfectionist tendencies in self and others.
The Perfectionist Child
Have you ever met a child who cannot seem to enjoy himself unless whatever he is doing is just so. Some children are so hard on themselves that if their drawing doesn't look exactly the way that they want each and every time they throw it away and get upset. Some older children feel miserable if they get anything less than an A in school. These types of children can create great stress for themselves as well as for those who care about them.
If you have a perfectionist child, you should gently remind them that the end product is not as important as what they did to get there. Let them know that what matters the most is that they do their best. Let them know that everyone makes mistakes and that mistakes exist to teach us lessons. Praise them for their efforts rather than simply for getting good grades. Let them know that your love for them is unconditional and that even if they fail at something you will always love them. Striving for perfection is not a bad thing in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when things get out of balance.
The Perfectionist Parent
Sometimes the reverse situation can occur. Parents can have such high expectations for their children that they stress their children out. Even parents of adult children can negatively impact the lives of their family members when they send a message that nothing is good enough if it is not absolutely perfect. They may be highly critical of everything that the child does and push them to excel in areas that they themselves (rather than the child) are passionate about. Although they may very well love you, having a perfectionist parent who goes to the extreme can be quite stressful experience for almost anyone.
If you have a perfectionist parent, try not to take their criticisms personally. Realize that they are probably just as hard on themselves (if not more) as they are on those around them. NEXT>