While this may is not a comprehensive list, this is primarily focusing on the anxiety to perform. Having worked with multiple teen girls and young women, the anxiety to perform is one of the most prevalent challenges. Adding the extra pressure from social media, there is this constant competition and a comparison which never stops; from their recitals, their football team, their cute makeup, to their cute boyfriends and girlfriends. The list goes on and on and on. For today’s blog, I only want to keep it simple and only make one point to help reduce your child or teens’ anxiety: teach them the distinction between seeking Excellence VS seeking Perfection. Parents, do you know deep down in your heart the differences between the two?
Whether you are spiritual or not, it is important to teach your children that there is a huge difference between seeking excellence and seeking perfectionism. Contrary to common North American parenting, raising a perfectionist may not be as good of an idea as one may think. Research has shown that there is a higher correlation between perfectionistic thinking and depression and anxiety. Here’s Five reasons why:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowning that fro mthe Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
1. Seeking Excellence builds characters; Seeking Perfection builds pride
When you teach your children to seek excellence, they maybe building important characters, such as faithfulness, goodness, patience, etc. However, if you are raising a perfectionist, when there is any success, it builds arrogance and pride. More importantly, perfection is, by definition, an impossible state. Unlike seeking excellence, there will never be true satisfaction and sense of accomplishments on that path. If you have an anxious child, they will only retreat and withdraw more.
2. Seeking Excellence encourages and compels; Seeking Perfection creates anxiety
Ironically, I observed many perfectionists ended up under-performing. The anxiety to fail is so intolerable which they ended up not wanting to try. They fear failures so much that they avoid challenges at all cost. Seeking excellence, however, is a rewarding journey which naturally encourages and compels your children to try harder. There is something very freeing to know that even if they did not fulfill certain requirements at the moment, as long as they sought their own excellence, they may improve over time with diligence. At the end of the day, they may accomplish more with that mindset.
3. Seeking Excellence connects; Seeking Perfection divides
Working in a group is a very important social skills for any age group. When you observe children in a group and how they work together, it is not hard to hear the underlying “excellence seeking tone” versus their “perfection seeking tone”.
“Ew! Who did that?”
“Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! This is gross.”
“How about trying this next time?”
“It was your fault.”
“We’ll do better next time.”
Whether it is within their group or between you and your child. You will find yourself connect better with your child if your focus is seeking excellence as a parent. Similarly, you will find your child distancing themselves from you as you seek perfection from them.
4. Seeking Excellence is enjoyable; Seeking Perfection becomes a dread
Similar to the last point, observe! The same bowling game, painting activities, or whatever the group is doing. It does not take long to see the kids deflated faces and the group crumbled as they seek perfectionism. Alternatively, they can be having a blast even though they lost if their goal was to seek excellence (not to be haphazard or sloppy).
If your child is different and really enjoys seeking perfectionism, I hate to say that, they may just come to my counseling office as an adult and talk about how well they acted happy in their childhood. Ask the million readers who purchased this book.
5. Seeking Excellence fosters compassion; Seeking Perfection fosters rigidity
When your anxious child fosters more compassion to themselves and others that they are good enough (again, provided that they were not seeking complacency or contemptible work), much of what drove them to anxiety subsides. By the same token, the child who grew up hearing that they need to further perform, perfect and please will foster a stronger and stronger sense of rigidity to themselves and others (as well as their future grandchildren). Since so much is at stake (you know, we are talking about zero mistakes and zero faults here, come on!), the disatisfaction and hatred of selves only grew
Once again, parents, are you a perferectionist? You cannot give to your children what you do not have. Start seeking excellence rather than perfection today and observe the long term effects on your children.
——This blog post is strongly inspired by the Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brene Brown—–