Battling Perfectionism


Is your daughter struggling with perfectionism?  Does she beat herself up when things don’t go as planned, or is she overly critical of herself?  Today’s blog offers 5 tips to help your girl battle perfectionism.

  1. Help her understand that she’s a human, so mistakes will happen

The hard truth about life is that no one is perfect. As much as we try and want to be perfect, it just isn’t possible.  Everyone is going to make a mistake from time to time, forget something, not perform well, or mess up some kind of way.  Help your daughter give herself permission to make mistakes…because they WILL happen.  Also, as a Human, help her understand that she is a human being…not a human doing.  In the quest to be “successful”, some girls feel this need to always be doing something to “prove” themselves.  This can look like having a need to get better grades, when she already has above a 98 in every class, or the need to join 37 clubs and organizations because that’s what “successful” girls do. Wrong.  Yes, those ambitions are great…with balance. Sometimes girls need to just Be, and not Do.  This is where important lessons on self-care and stress management come into play.

  1. Help her battle her “inner-hater

We all struggle with insecurities.  But sometime those insecurities turn into negative thoughts that replay over and over in our minds.  I call these thoughts “Your Inner- hater” because it’s like you are hatin’ on yourself in your brain.   But, sometimes girls verbalize their inner-hater thoughts.  She may say something like “Ugh, I’m not good at Equations”. When you hear your daughter say this type of negative comment about herself, encourage her to reframe that thought in a positive way. So instead of saying, “I’m not good in Equations”, she can say “Equations are tough for me, but I’m going to keep going to study hall to get better at them.”  Reframing negative statements into positive ones is the 1st step towards helping your daughter develop a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset (which I will blog more about later because I have a lot to say about that J).

  1. Tell her that she is not a failure, she just fell

This goes along with helping your daughter learn from her mistakes. I try to encourage our girls to not think of failure as a “fail” rather as a “fall”, so that they can get back up… or fall up J .  In order to battle perfectionism, we have to help girls realize that failure can be a good thing.  When we “fail” at something that gives us another chance to try it again, and grow from that experience.   Her failure can actually be her motivator if she lets it encourage her.

  1. Help her accept the fact that done is better than perfect

I have worked with girls who will stay awake until 4am or 5am working on a project, or who will intentionally not turn in a homework assignment because it’s not “perfect”.  When girls come into my office with this type of mindset, many of them feel stuck and they can’t move forward unless their perfect product is produced.  That’s when I try to help them become comfortable with “good enough”.  I often say “Done” is better than “Perfect” because the strive for perfection can cause so much unneeded and unhealthy stress.   In the examples I mentioned above, I would say something like “Since you stayed up until 5am, now you’re tired and can’t concentrate in class.  So, your quest for perfection is now hindering ALL of your other classes”.  Or, for the other example, I’d say “Wouldn’t you rather have 60, 70, 80, or 90 points rather than a 0 on an assignment?  When you get stuck in that perfectionist moment and don’t turn assignments in, you lose points. Wouldn’t you rather have some points than none?”

  1. Share your imperfections with her

Share your own stories about your personal mistakes and what you learned from them with your daughter. Let her know that you’ve been there, done that, and got a t-shirt about it and that you are not perfect either.  You have fallen up before, right?  Try to model being imperfect, and being OK.

Do you have any tips to share on helping daughters battle perfectionism? I’d love to hear from you.  Share them with me below.


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