Parenting | How to Raise a Healthy Striver
Parents navigate the intricate path of supporting their children’s academic and personal growth as the new school year begins. For some kids, these moments are marked by excitement and eagerness to tackle new challenges. These are the healthy strivers – youngsters with ambitious goals and high standards.
On the other hand, perfectionists approach this time with apprehension due to their unrealistic expectations and intense fear of failure. So, how can parents help their adolescents or college-age children become healthy strivers rather than destructive perfectionists? This article explores practical strategies to nurture resilience and a balanced mindset.
Perfectionism often makes children overly self-critical and extremely stressed about school assignments or social interactions. When a child fixates on a minor mistake or becomes anxious over a simple homework task, parents may be inclined to rush in with solutions or instruct them to stop stressing.
While the intentions are undoubtedly good, perfectionist children might interpret this as “It’s not acceptable for you to feel stressed or struggle.” Before diving into problem-solving mode, it’s essential to empathize. Show understanding and compassion by saying, “I can tell you’re stressed right now. I’m here for you, and I know it’s tough.”
Praise the Journey, Not the Destination
When offering praise and recognition to your child, shift the focus away from grades or scores and instead celebrate creativity and effort. During conversations, inquire about what your child enjoyed most about a project or performance rather than solely asking about the final grade received. This approach communicates that you value your child for who they are, not solely for their achievements.
Mistakes Are Learning Opportunities
Children often learn from observing their parents’ behaviour. Parents responding to their mistakes with panic or self-deprecating comments may inadvertently encourage their children to adopt perfectionist tendencies.
Parents should acknowledge their disappointment, highlight potential lessons, and celebrate resilience to promote a healthy attitude toward errors. Share stories of renowned individuals who faced numerous setbacks on their journey to success.
Teach the Mind-Body Connection
Perfectionists often believe they must be excessively critical of themselves to stay motivated and achieve success. They fear that relaxation could lead to laziness and setbacks. Consequently, they live in perpetual stress, constantly activating their sympathetic nervous systems.
However, this chronic stress impairs clear thinking and fosters negative thoughts, anxiety, and physical symptoms. Parents can help by teaching their children stress-reduction techniques, such as breathing exercises, to mitigate perfectionism’s physical and psychological effects.
While it’s natural for parents to want to help their children navigate challenges, excessive assistance can hinder the development of problem-solving skills. Children need the opportunity to experience obstacles and find solutions independently to build competence, confidence, and resilience.
Overinvolvement may inadvertently convey that they can’t handle situations independently, intensifying self-criticism and fear of making mistakes. A recent study has linked intrusive parenting to perfectionist traits, depression, and anxiety symptoms.
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