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Perfectionism in Children and Young People

Perfectionism is a trait marked by the pursuit of flawlessness and setting excessively high standards for oneself or others. It often leads to intense self-criticism and a constant dissatisfaction with anything less than perfection. There are three main dimensions of perfectionism: 

Self-Oriented Perfectionism: This dimension involves setting high standards and expectations for oneself. Self-oriented perfectionists are driven by an internal desire to excel and may engage in relentless self-evaluation and self-criticism. Children and young people often feel disappointed or inadequate when they fall short of their lofty standards.

Other-Oriented Perfectionism: This dimension involves imposing high standards and expectations on others. Other-oriented perfectionists may be critical and demanding of others' performance, believing they should meet the same standards of perfection that they set for themselves. This can strain relationships and create tension in social interactions.

Socially Prescribed Perfectionism: This dimension involves perceiving pressure from external sources, such as parents, peers, or society, to meet unrealistic standards of perfection. Socially prescribed perfectionists may feel compelled to live up to others' expectations, fearing judgment, rejection, or disapproval if they fail to meet those standards.

While perfectionism can drive achievement, it can also lead to anxiety, stress, and burnout. It is, therefore, important to distinguish between healthy striving for excellence and unhealthy perfectionism.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach for treating perfectionism. Through CBT, children and young people learn to manage perfectionistic tendencies by setting realistic goals, practising self-compassion, challenging irrational beliefs, and seeking support to help them cultivate a healthier relationship with themselves and their pursuit of excellence.

It is important to note that overcoming perfectionism is a gradual process that may require ongoing effort and support. At the Condition Management Company, our therapists provide tailored interventions and guidance to support children and young people on their journey towards greater self-acceptance and well-being.

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