Every family has an overachiever – the kid focused on getting perfect grades, performing at a high level in sports, in music and signing up for a whole number of clubs and activities. While it’s great to be ambitious and driven, young perfectionists may be at risk of burning out early.
According to Dr. Lisa Brown, children who hold themselves to very high standards may engage in negative self-talk, saying things like “I’m stupid” or “I’m ugly” or “I can’t do it.” While high standards can be a critical element in achieving goals, after a certain point, perfectionists can set themselves up for failure.
Here are some ways to help the perfectionist in your home take the edge off and find balance in their life.
Failure isn’t this be-all-end-all, it’s just part of being a person. While kids should try to do well on their homework, missing the mark from time to time will not kill them. Present mistakes as a learning experience and a way to improve next time and try again. Don’t be afraid to share your own shortcomings with your kids, and let them know how you worked through it.
Find a Hobby or a New Outlet
This isn’t the space to introduce your child to another competitive sport, rather an after school activity that is focused exclusively on fun or that provides a creative outlet or space to relax. We’re talking something like a yoga class – which may help kids come to terms with accepting themselves as they are. Yoga also is good for framing the idea of personal growth, rather than competition.
Additionally, things like a ceramics class, dance or drama might be a great way to explore a new creative pursuit that also can help take anxious kids’ mind off school or their relationships with peers.
Set Aside Some Time for “Calm” at Home
Kids can benefit from some down time that isn’t taken over by social media or talking about what’s going on at school. Put on an audiobook or some chill music. Kids can sit and listen, or get the coloring books out for a relaxing end to the day. Go old school with the art supplies, or download a coloring book app like the Mandala coloring app. Learn more here.
Mindfulness is in the midst of a moment, and for good reason. Making an effort to focus on the present can help kids (and parents, too) quash worries about failing a test or botching the big game in the future. And mindfulness isn’t necessarily meditating, it could be anything from focusing on a scent and describing it, to talking about what kids are feeling at this specific moment in time, or even just some calming breathing exercises. In any case, here’s a few exercises you can try with your kids at home.
We all cope with stress in our own unique way. As a parent, be open to offering opportunities for your overachiever to chill, and keep in mind, they may hate the yoga class, but find solace in kickboxing or hiking. Explore these new outlets as a family — it may do you some good, too.