“What’s the point of doing something if you can’t be the best?” my daughter asked me one day. The question shocked me on so many levels because I have always told my kids to be happy with trying your best. However, as they get older, I see that perfectionism sometimes gets in the way, especially when my little girl gets frustrated when things don’t go as well as she expected them to. I understand it all too well. In my own life there have been many things I did not even try to do because I knew I wouldn’t be able to excel at them. Some I do regret now that I realize that life is so much more than being the best. The challenge I now face is helping my own children understand that.
When I got pregnant, I wanted to be the perfect mom. Of course once I actually became a mother, I realized how impossible it was to actually achieve that goal. Even striving for that perfection can send kids the wrong message. It’s more important to learn to live with your imperfections rather than stop yourself from trying something new or torturing yourself over all your shortcomings. It’s quite liberating to let go of your self-imposed expectations. It even allows you to feel happier.
We all have our weaknesses, but we also have so many strengths. If we want to raise confident children, they need to value all the great things they can do. Even making a mistake can be turned into something empowering once they realize the lesson they can learn from that experience. This makes them stronger instead of making them feel defeated and overwhelmed while trying to achieve perfection. With my daughter, it’s a constant work in progress, since she competes in gymnastics and is constantly evaluated, so I always highlight how far she’s come instead of focusing how much better she needs to be to get a perfect score.
How can you help your children deal with their flaws and weaknesses? Here are three tips to let go of perfectionism:
Be comfortable in your own skin.
Kids learn more from our actions than from our words. If you’re a perfectionist, find ways to accept that it’s best to make peace with trying your best. How you deal with your own frustration when things don’t come out the way you wanted them to is teaching your own children how they should react and what is okay for them to do.
Help them find ways to deal with frustration.
Life is full of challenges and even if we can’t succeed at all of them, it’s still worth trying. Allow your kids to voice and express their feelings, validate them, and guide them so they don’t feel tempted to desist from things that seem too hard.
Empower your children by valuing what they do achieve …
… and by having the courage to try something new. You want them to feel satisfied by their accomplishments by embracing their imperfections instead of fighting them or being ashamed.
Image courtesy of Jeannette Kaplun