Perfectionism, often celebrated in today’s society, exacts a toll on teens’ mental well-being. As a parent navigating their increasing independence, it’s crucial to combat external pressures from classmates, celebrities, and social media. Amidst these influences, you remain the foremost guide for your teen’s understanding of success and happiness.


How do I help my teen avoid perfectionism?

As a parent of a teen who’s becoming more independent every day, these outside influences can sometimes seem too much to combat. What’s important to remember is that among all these larger than life figures your teen idolizes, you are still the biggest influencer in their daily life. Yes, between the eye-rolling and attitude, your teen still looks to you to set an example of what success and happiness look like.

As your teen is bombarded with idealized views of everything from academic standards to athletic performance, you have three main roles in fighting back against perfectionism:


1. Recognizing perfectionist tendencies your teen might be displaying.
  • Signs include indecision, reassurance-seeking, list-making, task abandonment, procrastination, fixation on imperfections, and avoidance of challenges.
  • These tendencies impact daily life and future prospects, fostering stress and potential alienation from social groups.


2. Celebrating their progress and the effort they put in.
  • Shift the focus from letter grades to personal growth.
  • Encourage a growth mindset, where setbacks are viewed as opportunities for learning.
  • Acknowledge and appreciate effort, emphasizing the journey rather than fixating on perfection.


3. Working with your teen to realign their views of success.
  • Challenge the notion that success equals perfection.
  • Help your teen define success based on happiness, passion, empathy, learning from mistakes, and being accountable for their actions.
  • Guide them to understand that success is achievable without the undue pressure of overachievement.


In this world of exaggerated ideals, your role as a parent is pivotal. By instilling a balanced perspective on success and emphasizing personal growth, you equip your teen with resilience and a healthier mindset.