Is Your Child Struggling With Perfectionism?

by | Apr 26, 2024 | Child Counseling

Perfectionism in children occurs when kids have unrealistic expectations for themselves. Whether these are self-imposed or imposed by an outside force, the message to the child is the same. They are afraid of failure or mistakes and can’t handle the idea of being “wrong”. They also tend to seek external validation and often have high levels of anxiety.


While we want our children to be successful, striving for perfection can actually have the opposite effect on children during their development. They feel incompetent or may begin to withdraw or shy away from tasks that they deem as too difficult. They also tend to engage in negative self-talk. And when a child believes that they have to be perfect in everything that they do, there are subjected to higher levels of stress which may lead to things like anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.


Ways to Help Your Child Overcome Perfectionism


Offer encouragement instead of praise. Encourage their effort and not the finished product. Celebrate their efforts. We want children to feel good about themselves no matter the outcome. This also means that their validation comes internally instead of seeking external validation.


Model healthy self-talk. Your child is watching and listening to how you handle setbacks. Model self-compassion and understanding so that your child knows they don’t have to hit the mark every time.


Offer unconditional acceptance. Let your child know they are accepted unconditionally for who they are and not what they achieve. Let them know that achievement isn’t everything.


Share your “humanness” with your child. Children watch what you do much more than what you say. Let your child see that you aren’t perfect.


Have realistic expectations. If you find yourself frustrated with your child, ask yourself if your expectations are developmentally appropriate. Often times we forget what it’s like to be a child.


If you are wondering if perfectionism is impacting your child and you’ve tried different things without success, schedule a free consultation to see if play therapy may help. Play therapy gives children the opportunity to work through what is bothering them, help them make sense of what they are feeling,   increase their self-esteem, decrease anxiety, and feel unconditionally accepted. Play therapy may be a solution for your child.

About the author:

<a href="" target="_blank">Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis</a>

Stephanie Rodenberg-Lewis

Stephanie is a licensed professional counselor, a registered play therapist, a national certified counselor and a certified school counselor. She has over 17 years of experience working with children as a classroom teacher, school counselor and licensed therapist. She founded Collective Hope Counseling in August 2020 to help serve her community. With her extensive experience in child development, she knew she wanted to work with kids and their families. Stephanie completed additional training in child centered play therapy and became a certified+ play therapy professional in 2024.