The Impact of Perfectionism on the Mental Health of Children and Teens

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How often have you worked and toiled and put effort into a project, looked at it and thought, “This is not good enough!”

Perfectionism is a common trait that is often encouraged and rewarded in society. While striving for excellence and setting high standards can be beneficial in many aspects of life, perfectionism can also have an impact negative impact, especially on the mental health of children and teens.

Research has shown that perfectionism is linked to a higher risk of stress and anxiety. Children and teens who are perfectionists may experience a range of negative emotions, including guilt, shame, frustration or hopelessness when they fall short of their own expectations or the expectations of others.

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Understanding perfectionism and its types

A perfectionist is a person who sets excessively high standards for themselves and others, coupled with a strong desire to meet those standards.

They often strive for flawlessness in their work, relationships, and personal achievements, and can be overly self-critical if they fall short of their expectations.

On the one hand, it can drive individuals to achieve great success and excellence in their chosen fields and can be a source of motivation and pride.

On the other hand, it can also lead to anxiety, stress, and burnout, as individuals may be constantly striving for an unattainable level of perfection.

What type of perfectionist are you?

There are different types of perfectionism, including:-

  • Self-oriented,
  • Other-oriented,
  • and socially prescribed.

Self-oriented perfectionists set high standards for themselves and strive for personal excellence, while other-oriented perfectionists set high standards for others and can be very critical of their performance.

On the other hand, socially prescribed perfectionists feel a strong pressure to meet the expectations of others and may be afraid of failure or criticism.

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How does perfectionism impact mental health?

While striving for excellence and having high standards can be positive traits, perfectionism becomes unhealthy when the standards are unattainable and a rigid goal causes stress and anxiety.

Here are some ways perfectionism can impact mental health:

Anxiety and depression: Perfectionism can lead to anxiety and depression, as the individual may constantly worry about meeting high standards or fear failure.

Low self-esteem: When perfectionism is not achieved, it can lead to negative self-talk and a decrease in self-esteem. The individual may feel they are not worthy of praise or recognition.

Obsessive-compulsive tendencies: Perfectionism can also lead to obsessive-compulsive tendencies, such as constantly checking and re-checking work or needing to have everything in order.

Avoidance behaviour: Fear of failure or not meeting high standards can lead to avoidance behaviour, such as procrastination or giving up on tasks.

Social isolation: Perfectionism can also lead to social isolation, as the individual may avoid social situations or interactions to avoid making mistakes or being judged by others.

How to help children cope with perfectionism?

It is important for parents and caregivers to recognise the signs of perfectionism in children and teens and to take steps to support their mental health. One of the most important things that parents can do is to help children and teens set realistic goals and expectations for themselves.

This means encouraging them to strive for excellence while also recognising that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.

Parents can also help them develop coping skills to deal with feelings of stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. This might include teaching them relaxation techniques, encouraging physical exercise, or helping them develop a support network of friends and family members.

In addition, parents can encourage children and teens to pursue activities that they enjoy and that allows them to express themselves creatively. This might include art, music, writing, or sports. These activities can provide a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety and can help children and teens develop a sense of identity and purpose beyond academic or social success.

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Creating a positive atmosphere for learning and growth

 Maple Leaf Kingsley International School provides a supportive environment in which students take on new challenges with a positive attitude and learn from their mistakes.

We encourage students to participate in various activities that allow them to make mistakes, reflect on them and correct them. This helps them become more self-aware and to understand that mistakes are a part of growth; and life.

Our vision is to create a supportive environment in which students can flourish. Small class sizes with an optimal number of students allow the teachers to nurture and guide the students to become the best version of themselves.

To help students feel secure at school, Maple Leaf Kingsley International School provides a bully-free environment in which students are encouraged to understand the implications and negative impacts of bullying through awareness programmes. This is coupled with pastoral care and counselling services to ensure that the mental health and well-being of the students are not overlooked.

We consistently model kind behaviour and create a warm and friendly atmosphere where students feel confident, engaged and respectful towards each other.

Maple Leaf Kingsley International School is more than just a place where students can learn–it’s a community where they feel free to express themselves without fear of failure.