— Skylight Trust

A perfectionist always wants to achieve high standards while worrying constantly about making mistakes, to avoid disappointing others, and themselves.

Anything less than perfect performance is judged as a failure by perfectionists. If you don't meet your ultra-high standards for success, you may panic and think something terrible will happen. You may feel shame or less worthy, because you couldn't meet your expectations.

There are some positives to perfectionism. You can be motivated, disciplined, and highly accomplished when on track. There are also negatives. While there is nothing wrong with having high standards, sometimes these standards can be too high, and can get in the way of your work/school, relationships, and enjoyment of life.

Trying to be perfect all the time, can stop you from being your most successful and productive.

You may be a perfectionist if you experience some of the following:

  • often set unrealistic goals and standards
  • have difficulty completing tasks, or give up easily
  • overly cautious and thorough in tasks and check work excessively
  • get very upset if you make minor mistakes
  • only satisfied with perfection and seem too focused on avoiding failure
  • get very upset when an important goal is not reached
  • cannot tolerate criticism well
  • are self-critical even when achieving
  • don't bounce back easily from a poor performance
  • seem tense and worried even when doing well
  • panic before and during tests for fear of failure
  • will not try something new for fear of failure.

Being a perfectionist can make you feel like you're:

  • frustrated and want to give up easily
  • angry
  • depressed
  • anxious.

It can also lead to other issues such as eating disorders, self harm or suicide

More information on these disorders can be found online at Perfectionism

Why might you be a perfectionist? It can be because of similar expectations from your parents, siblings, teacher and environment or you may have been born with these tendencies.

If your child suffers from perfectionism here is how you can help:

  • teach and encourage your child to achieve a more flexible self-view
  • help them to reduce their standards, if necessary
  • reduce your own perfectionist behaviour. Also reduce your expectations of your child. If needed, demonstrate that you can make mistakes also
  • encourage them to replace self-critical or perfectionistic thoughts with ones that are more realistic and helpful
  • help your child to create a realistic action plan for each of their tasks
  • break down the task into do-able steps
  • a regular schedule helps minimise avoidance
  • help your child to focus on the process of completing each step instead of concentrating on the outcome
  • encourage them to notice what is enjoyable about the work
  • notice progress and build in rewards along the way.

Resources Available at Skylight

Skylight is here to help you through difficult times. We can assist you in a variety of ways with information appropriate for your situation. You are welcome to visit us and receive free information and a support pack from our resource centre and borrow books from the specialist library. We also facilitate Professional Development training and offer Counselling support services for children, young people, family/whānau and individuals who are experiencing tough times.

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