We’ve noticed a trend with kids today. With social media and their lives being so public, they often feel pressure to be “perfect.” I heard one teenage girl share that she usually takes 100 selfies before she finds one she thinks is good enough to post! The pressure to look perfect, act perfect and project the “perfect life” can feel overwhelming. Add to that the pressure to succeed at school, sports and extracurricular activities and a lot of us end up with stressed out kids, striving for perfection. As parents, it can be a challenge knowing how to handle this. In fact, many of us feel the same pressure.
We are excited to share with you an interview with Kara Christensen, a very special 17 year-old girl who addresses this very issue. Kara will be presenting at our mother/daughter retreat Raising Jane on August 20th, 2016. Kara knows a thing or two about dealing with perfectionism. As a Junior in High School, she scored a perfect score on her Math SAT, was a delegate for California Girl State and is a Mentor to younger girls through her internship at New Moon Magazine for Girls. Although it would be easy for her to focus on “being perfect” she has learned how avoid putting that kind of pressure on herself.
“I try to focus on what I’ve done right and not what’s gone wrong.”
5 Easy Ways to Help Your Child Deal with Perfectionism:
1. Mistakes and “failures” are okay: Make sure your child knows that they are allowed to make mistakes and that this does not make them a “bad person” or failure. Share times you’ve messed up. Talk about when you bombed a test, didn’t make the team or said something hurtful to a friend.
2. Social Media is not reality: Often times pictures on social media are highly edited and status updates carefully selected. Comparing our lives to the “perfect” social media lives of our friends can make us feel badly. Talk with your child about how people don’t typically post the boring tasks they are doing, or unflattering photos, so it’s best not to compare ourselves to them.
3. Strive for progress not perfection: Encourage your child to try their best but don’t expect perfection. Make sure you are not adding to their stress of being perfect but rather encouraging them to make progress. Find times to praise them for working hard, taking a chance, being courageous, etc. regardless of the outcome.
4. Treat yourself like a friend: Most kids and teens are forgiving of their friends’ mistakes or “failures” but see their own as a character flaw. When your child is upset about a perceived failure, talk about what they would say to a friend in their shoes. Taking a step back can help them gain perspective.
5. Make time to play: Kids are under a lot of stress. Make sure they have time in their day to have fun. As grown-ups many of us never stop working on our “To-Do Lists.” We can model the importance of prioritizing play by making time for hobbies or activities that help us reduce stress and unwind. Talk with your child about what they enjoy doing for fun and then make sure they get a healthy dose of play every day.