Perfectionist Parenting

The journey of parenting is very unique for every individual. Before we fulfil our role as parents we are individuals with our own characteristics/personality types. It is no secret that there are parents who are perfectionists. They simply excel at everything they do because of some of the sacrifices they make.
People who are perfectionists are viewed as successful, unfortunately they do not feel good enough even with all they achieve. In this article we will establish what constitutes a perfectionist parent and how to let go of perfectionism.
The quest for perfection usually backfires because some parents expect perfection from themselves and others expect perfection from their kids. The reality of life is that it does not work the way we want. We live in a diverse world with different situations and circumstances.

Signs that you expect your child to be perfect

  • Difficulty watching your child do something if she doesn’t do it your way
  • Treating your child’s activities, like a math test or a soccer game, like they’re life-changing events
  • Criticizing your child more than you praise
  • Micromanaging your child when she’s working on a task
  • Putting pressure on your child to perform without error
  • Pushing your child to fulfil your dreams
  • Making your self-worth hinge on your child’s achievement

Signs that you expect yourself to be a Perfect Parent


  • Blaming yourself when your child experiences failure
  • Beating yourself up for not being able to do more for your kids, despite the fact you do a lot already
  • Criticizing yourself often
  • Constantly second-guessing your parenting choices
  • Comparing yourself to other parents and feeling like you are not doing enough
  • Losing your cool often because your expectations are too high

Standards vs Perfectionism

As parents we need to be able to distinguish between having high standards and being a perfectionist because there is a difference.

When a parent uses the perfectionist parenting approach, this creates an environment for the child to believe that if he does not achieve the highest standards they have automatically failed at life. This is a bit unfair on a child don’t you think? Children can go to the extremes to impress parents using the wrong methods such as cheating in a test or an exam all because they think you value achievement over honesty. Research indicates that both adults and children learn by making mistakes.

We need to also be aware that our perfectionism can be learnt by our kids. This puts children at a greater risk of mental health problems such as anxiety, eating disorders and depression.

Perfectionism can create limiting beliefs in children because they will easily give up if they know they are unable to achieve straight A’s. They may also be discouraged to play sports if they know they will never be the star athlete in the school team.

Can you let go of Perfectionism?

Are you a Perfectionist Parent?

Are you a Perfectionist Parent?

The reality of life is no one is perfect. You may want to be a perfect parent to your child. However, you need to remember that your child will grow into an adult and they will work with imperfect colleagues, fall in love with an imperfect partner, or live with an imperfect roommate.
It will benefit you and your child’s mental health if you let go of perfectionism, this will also help you build a stronger bond and unconditional love between parent and child.

Recommendations on how to let go of Perfectionism:

  • Focus on what you do right in parenting. You might not be the best at coming up with educational, enriching activities on a daily basis, but perhaps you rock at sewing Halloween costumes and baking cookies on the weekends. Acknowledge your strength and practice a little self-compassion where you’re not a superstar.
  • Consider your language. Whether he just won a ribbon in the public speaking competition or his team lost a game on the field, avoid telling your child that his performance was a complete success or that losing was terrible. Instead, ask your child to identify what he did well and what he thinks he can do better next time.
  • Pay attention to your child’s effort, not the outcome. Rather than praising your child for getting an A on a test, praise her for studying hard. Or instead of telling her that she did a great job scoring two goals in the game, tell her that you noticed she hustled hard. Then, she’ll be more likely to focus on doing her best rather than making sure she achieves at all costs.
  • Back off when your child is overwhelmed. It’s helpful to cheer your child on when he’s struggling, but insisting he keep trying after he’s mentally checked out isn’t a good idea. If he starts disliking activities he used to love, like baseball or piano, it may be a sign you’re pushing him too hard. Challenge your child to do well but don’t push him to do more than he’s capable of doing.
  • Cut your child some slack. If you find yourself yelling at your child because he didn’t make his bed correctly or you are angry with him for getting some spelling words wrong, take a deep breath. Remember that kids are supposed to make mistakes and each mistake is a learning opportunity.
  • Filter your social media. Comparing yourself to others is a recipe for negativity. Remember, you’re only seeing the highlight reel of another person’s life, not the whole film. Don’t compare your child to other children either. All kids are different.
  • Send healthy messages about failure. Let your child make mistakes and fail sometimes. Talk about failure as a learning opportunity and acknowledge that failing a test or not making the school play is hard, but it’s not the end of the world.
Some things are easier said than done right? Sometimes there are things we cannot unlearn by ourselves because of our own traumas as adults and from childhood, and anxiety disorders. When we lean towards perfectionism this strains all our relationships and our state of mental health. Fortunately, we have trained mental health professionals who are ready to assist. Please use your google search engine to find a professional in your area.