How I'm Teaching My Son to Be an Achiever, Not a Perfectionist

Last week, we started talking about perfection and the pressure in today’s society to be perfect. No flaws - no mistakes. From birth, we’re ranked from best to worst in almost everything we do. When setting goals for ourselves we tend to think of settling for nothing but the best.

It’s not enough to be financially secure - we have to be a millionaire.

It’s not enough to have a stable job that we love - we have to be the boss.

It’s not enough to play the game - we have to be the champion.

It’s not enough to try - you have to triumph.

To some extent, this can be healthy. Setting high goals for ourselves can push us to grow and excel. But, as we discussed in our previous post, we have to be careful not to go into a constant state of self-criticism where we are looking for what we did wrong or not good enough in every single situation.

Where this has been the most important in my life? Parenting.

I realized I tend to get in this mindset where if I don’t do something perfectly, it wasn’t a success. It’s not enough for me to do/accomplish something - it has to be perfect. Even though perfection doesn’t exist! It’s led to a lot of negative self talk, anxiety, and stress that, frankly, I don’t need in my life. As a parent, I’ve had to recognize that 1.) I won’t be perfect and 2.) my son won’t be perfect. It’s now my job to teach him to be an achiever, not a perfectionist. To recognize doing your best is always good enough - even if it isn’t “perfect”.

So far, this has manifested in small(ish) ways. A meltdown at a soccer game because he can’t score a goal, and if he doesn’t score a goal, he doesn’t get the ice cream his Uncle said he could have if he did. Anger and frustration when he’s drawing a picture and can’t get it quite right or doesn’t get a task right the first time. Heartbreak when he comes home from school and says he was told he needs to be more like another, more quiet, kid. But the “little things” can turn into the big things if aren’t handled correctly.

We’re raising one emotional, curious, kind-hearted, rule-following little boy. He listens and processes every bit of information and takes everything to heart. If Mommy or Daddy (or another authority figure in his life) say it, it’s law. It can be great… or it can be really, really bad. If we don’t start recognizing the pressure we may be inadvertently putting on kids to be PERFECT instead of authentic, hardworking, positive, achievers, we can hurt them down the road. Their best won’t be on the same level as everyone else’s best. They’re not going to be perfect. Their schoolwork, relationships, behavior, friendships, jobs, LIVES, aren’t going to be perfect… so stop trying to force them to be.

As for Mr. Linc, as long as he’s trying HIS best, I’ll be one happy mama.

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