Teens are stressed. Sports, extracurriculars, academics. It is a never-ending list of ways they have to perform and compete against their peers.
All of this stress can take its toll on a teen’s mental health and overall well-being. They can become self-critical, overwhelmed, depressed, and feel that they can never live up to the standards that they and others put on them.
Challenges Among Perfectionistic Teens:
- Constant pressure to achieve academically
- Fear of any negative feedback or criticism
- Big emotional swings and changes in mood
- High anxiety related to performance
- Struggles with unpredictability or a loss of control
Why is Perfectionism in Teens harmful?
Teens will often put an immense amount of pressure on themselves to perform and, with hormones and brains that are not fully developed, it can lead to dangerous situations when they don’t achieve these unrealistic expectations.
This mindset can lead to clinical depression and suicidal thoughts when left untreated. Teens will often develop unhealthy coping skills and high anxiety that can continue into adulthood if not dealt with at this formidable time.
What does therapy look like?
My goal is to help teens develop more realistic expectations for themselves as well as challenge the constant comparison to their peers. Teens are often struggling with low self-esteem and a need to feel “good enough” which is rarely satisfied by perfect grades or admission to their ideal university. I work to help them develop a self-worth outside of the achievements or accolades they receive.
Teens can be successful and flourish but it is unsustainable in a perfectionist mindset that sets them up for failure with unrealistic expectations and validation from others. I strive to give them a solid foundation for them to be successful and continue to thrive well beyond the stressors of high school.
How can parents support their teen?
I often encourage parents to help their teen find self-worth and value as a person outside of the demands of school and extracurriculars. Reminding our teens that the grades don’t define them and how well they do in a game does not impact who they are as a person. We need to reframe failure as a stepping stone or a learning experience as opposed to defining them in unhealthy way.
If you are looking for more ways to support your teen please check out parent coaching and how you can help change your teens perspective even when they aren’t ready for therapy themselves.