Some parents complain about their teens’ negative behaviors and wish they would try harder, while other parents worry about their teens who put unhealthy standards and rules upon themselves. Perfectionism can be both good and bad. Having high standards can motivate individuals to accomplish their goals. On the other hand, strict perfectionistic standards are often inflexible and difficult to achieve. Unhealthy perfectionism in teens is typically driven by a fear of failure or fear of disappointing others. Perfectionistic teens may experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Teens with perfectionism often create inflexible and unrealistic rules for themselves, which can be related to academic performance, physical appearance, athleticism, and relationships. When teens do not follow their own rules, they may become anxious and depressed. Parents of perfectionistic teens can take a few steps to help their teens manage their fear of failure and disappointment.
Teens with perfectionism view themselves as a total success or total failure, which is based on the standards they set for themselves. Parents should validate their feelings while helping them come up with more reasonable thoughts and rules. Parents can also help their teens make realistic estimates of the likelihood of catastrophic outcomes.
Another way parents can help perfectionistic teens is by helping them find ways to test the value and need for their own rules. Start with small experiments to see what happens when a rule is not followed. For example, can the teen miss one sports practice and still perform well during the game?
Moreover, it is important for parents to model healthy standards and responses to not achieving rules and goals. Teens learn from observing actions. Parents should model healthy responses to their teens’ accomplishments and to their setbacks. Parents must model that it is okay to still feel good about ourselves as a whole even we do not follow our own rules.
By implementing these strategies, parents can help teens develop healthier and more flexible rules for themselves. This will decrease teens’ overall stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as increase their self-worth and self-esteem.
By: Alana Summers, M.A.