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Is Perfectionism Hereditary?

Talk-Therapy-Touted-as-First-Line-Treatment-for-Youth-with-Psychosis-RiskPerfectionism, the constant fear of failure and simply “not feeling good enough.” To a perfectionist mistakes are indications of personal flaws and the only way for acceptance is to be perfect.   Our high expectations often leave us feeling inadequate and falling short of what we could be.  But nobody is perfect at life, nothing is meant to be flawless.  When we realize we are not expected to be perfect and that we are here to learn, we are able to develop compassion for ourselves and others.

This perfectionistic trait can easily be passed down to our children because they feel like they are not good enough in their parent’s and their own eyes.  Here are some ideas to help interfere with this vicious cycle:

  1. Let your kids be themselves.  If they want to wear clothes to school that are mismatched, confront your own perfectionistic tendencies and let them express themselves. Praise them, love them, teach them, and realize that these special personalities in your home are different than you.  What a wonderful thing that they come with their own individuality. Life would be pretty dull if we were all the same.
  2.   Periodically challenge yourself to become a “yes” parent and let go of the plan.  Perfectionist’s lives are often very thought out and problems seem to surface when things don’t get exactly the way one  was expecting.  Embrace the uncertainty of life and take baby steps by learning to let some things slide.
  3.    See the good in your child.  When parenting my first child, I had difficulty seeing the good when it seemed like there were so many parenting challenges that didn’t follow my plan.  Since then as a recovering perfectionist, I see my children in a whole new light.  I wasn’t perfect as a kid and why would I expect them to be.  Once I embraced my imperfections and theirs, I felt much more compassion for them and my love has grown immensely.

If this is a struggle for you, once again start out with baby steps.  Take out a piece of paper and write down the little things that happened during the day that you love about your child.  It could be their curiosity, that one time they shared with their sibling, or the hug and kiss you received when tucking them into bed.  Watch out, seeing the good can be contagious.

  1.   Give them a break.  As adults we are equipped to have more concentration than children and less impulsivity.  When a child doesn’t perform according to our standards, a perfectionist may shame the child, leaving them feeling that they are “bad” or “unlovable.”  Once again dig deep for that compassion and realize your children are in a learning process.  How can you help them grow through their experiences.

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