Helping Teens Overcome Perfectionism

This week on HSHSP Ep 158: Helping Teens Overcome Perfectionism. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.

HSHSP Ep 158: Helping Teens Overcome Perfectionism. Homeschool high schoolers sometimes get bogged down in trying to make all their assignments perfect. Here's how to be realistic, not perfectionistic. #HomeschoolHighschoolPodcast #OvercomingPerfectionism

HSHSP Ep 158: Helping Teens Overcome Perfectionism

Many teens (and moms, too) get stymied by perfectionism. When teens feel like they must do everything perfectly, it ends up messy! They might:

  • End up feeling burned out and anxious because of the stress that perfectionistic thinking causes
  • End up not getting their work done because they feel overwhelmed and put it off

Join Vicki for a personal chat. Vicki’s *paying jobs* are mental health counselor, life and career coach. She works often with perfectionistic teens (and adults). Take her word for it, perfectionism doesn’t need to stymie your teens or wear them out. In today’s episode she shares some helpful tips.

There are two kinds of perfectionistic teens:

  • One kind of perfectionistic teen has to work at every detail until the project (homework, practice, chore is perfect…they never turn off, even if they are exhausted and stressed)
  • The other kind of perfectionistic teen has an idea of what perfection would look like but it is too hard or they don’t know how to start, so they shut down and get nothing done!

For the perfectionist teens (or mom) who overwork themselves, here’s some advice:

  1. Write down your ultimate priorities and rank them
  2. Do a time audit (these teens often don’t have a clue how many hours there are in a day). Download a how-to from Vicki Tillman Coaching.
  3. Here’s a quicky overview on time audits:
  4. For one week: Hour by hour write down what they are doing
  5. Make a pie chart on how many hours they spent on everything (including sleep and Activities of Daily Living)
  6. Does it line up with priorities? If not, create a new pie chart AND write out a schedule for pie chart: THEN STOP when it is time to stop, even if whatever they are working on isn’t perfect.
  7. Teach them to submit to the fact that they must learn to live in the tension of visualizing perfection but living in a limited world. This is the way God made the world for us.

The second kind of perfectionistic teen can visualize perfection but knows they can’t achieve it. SO they procrastinate. Here’s some advice:

  • Teach your teens these concepts:
    • That is is okay that they cannot do it right the first time.
    • That learning (projects, assignments, chores…anything)  is about taking baby steps (in psychology, we call this: successive approximation).
    • To memorize this quote: Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. GK Chesterton
Anything worth doing is worth doing badly. GK Chesterton's wise advice that give perfectionistic teens (and their moms) encouragement to do their projects even when they can't get them done well. #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast

If you or your teens would like some life or career coaching, contact Vicki for some consultation by phone, Facetime or Skype.

Join Vicki for a quick discussion about helping teens overcome perfectionism.

You’ll also enjoy these posts:

How and Why to Write Syllabus for Homeschool Courses

5 Easy Steps to a Co-Op Syllabus

HSHSP Ep 158: Helping Teens Overcome Perfectionism

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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