Helping Your Perfectionist Teen 

by | Aug 11, 2021 | Teenagers | 0 comments

There are several common habits unhealthy perfectionists fall into. The good news is parents can help! Use these tips to help your perfectionist teen turn unhelpful, often destructive habits, into positive, productive actions.  


Habit 1: The perfectionist teen will focus, or sometimes obsess, on results.


How to turn it around: 

  • Praise effort
  • Focus on the process.
  • Emphasize growth and learning. 


Habit 2: The perfectionist teen can lose sight of other areas of life. Friendships and health can suffer.


How to turn it around: 


  • Model balance.
  • If you are in charge of your teen’s schedule, create spaces for downtime and fun.  If she creates her schedule, talk about strategies like time blocking. 
  • Help her see how downtime and fun time recharge her for other tasks. 
  • Emphasize enjoyment and relaxation.


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Habit 3: The perfectionist teen will avoid and/or personalize failure.


How to turn it around: 

  • Share “famous failures” on YouTube.  
  • Talk about how important inventions, successful athletes, and top executives had to fail in order to achieve.
  • Discuss the value of failure and the important wisdom gained through making mistakes.


Habit 4: The perfectionist teen will avoid risks for fear of failing.


How to turn it around: 

  • Encourage healthy risk-taking and again, praise effort.  
  • Model healthy risk-taking.  Show your teen how much fun it can be to try something new and how to take mistakes lightly.  
  • Encourage her to step out of her comfort zone and laugh at the “mess-ups” that may happen along the way. 


Habit 5:  The perfectionistic teen will be hard on herself.


How to turn it around: 

  • Introduce your teen to her inner critic. Give it a name so she can separate her true self from her critical self.
  • Help her see that the inner critic’s voice is always negative and unhelpful. 
  • Offer positive, honest, energizing alternatives to negative self-talk.  
  • Teach her strategies for self-soothing, like yoga, meditation, or talking with a life coach.


Habit 6: The perfectionistic teen will set high, often unreachable goals.


How to turn it around: 

  • Talk about goals and goal setting. 
  • Distinguish between realistic and unrealistic goals, and short-, medium-, and long-term goals.
  • Teach goal-setting strategies.  One of my favorites for perfectionist teens comes from Positive Psychology.  It is called W.O.O.P. )Wish Outcome Obstacle Plan.)  This process begins by identifying a Wish and desired Outcome.  Then, recognizing an Obstacle- what might get in the way of achieving the desired outcome.  Lastly, creating a Plan, one that includes how you might overcome the obstacle.  


Perfectionism can creep up at different times during adolescence and in different areas of life. Instead of meeting perfectionistic tendencies with worry or fear, use these moments as an opportunity to teach your teen empowering life skills. 



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