Children who become perfectionists or display compulsive behaviors may begin doing so for many reasons.

  • They could have fear or anxiety concerns.

  • They could be reflecting patterns learned in the home.

  • They could simply be doing it to make order out of their world to feel safe and secure.

If you notice that your child is displaying characteristics or patterns consistent with perfectionism, there are things you can do to help. Here are three important areas you can focus on to guide your child.

1. Create a plan of order

A child who begins to display compulsive tendencies may do so because they need that consistency and fear the unknown. You can help your child by allowing them to establish routines and a plan of order for your home. While this can be taken to the extreme if a child repeats routines over and over again, by allowing your child to establish some order can, in fact, help to allow them to feel more secure in their environment.

Helping your child establish a routine or plan of order should not be helping them establish a ritual. You should help to set a guideline, but it should not be a routine that is followed every detail in an exacting order.

For instance, it's good to help your child create a bedtime routine that helps them to unwind from the day and prepare for sleep. Things such as brushing their teeth, reading a book, and even snuggling are good things to include in a routine. You should not let your child become overly concerned that they begin the routine at the exact same time every night, that they read the exact same book, or that they repeat exacting routines. This much detail can, in fact, cause more compulsions.

2. Relieve tension and fear by allowing them to be good enough

For that child who always needs to win or needs that perfect A, you must begin helping them realize that simply by doing their best they are good enough. Children who become perfectionists think that the only way they deserve or can be loved is if they are perfect.

As a parent, you need to make sure they know this is not true. You need to begin by giving them small challenges they can accomplish, whether it's done your way or not, and reward them for their effort.

  • Let them learn how to contribute to the family.

  • Teach them to take care of themselves

  • Teach them to have an impact on their own successes.

The more a child can say I did that myself, the more confidence they will gain and the more they will begin to accept their own worth without a medal or a grade to show it.

3. Encourage open communication and expression of feelings

Because fear and anxiety issues can be important factors in a child's need for compulsions, opening a dialogue with them can help. Allowing a child free and open time to discuss concerns, worries, and thoughts allows them not only to share what they are feeling, but also allows them to verbalize and begin to master their own plan for achieving success.

Whether you have a child currently displaying perfectionist characteristics, or are simply looking for ideas to help; these ideas can help. You can create a safe, loving environment for your child where they feel great just as they are. They can help to accomplish tasks, and begin to set realistic expectations and routines.

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