Problems with perfectionism

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Problems with perfectionism

I think that perfectionism is a particular form of unhappiness. If you think about it, it is, by definition, never being satisfied with what you've just done. It's being really driven by a fear of failure or a fear of disappointing yourself or another person. It's really important for us to try and guide our kids away from perfectionism when we can. Because perfectionists tend to be anxious or depressed. They are much more likely to commit suicide in college when things go wrong. It is a pretty serious issue that we think of incorrectly. We assume that a person's perfectionism is, in part, responsible for their success. In fact, we know that perfectionism tends to detract from a person's success. When we redirect that energy that was going towards anxiety and not feeling very satisfied, to whatever the task at hand is, people tend to flourish. Some kids are naturally predisposed to be more perfectionistic. We, as parents, can help those kids in a variety of ways. I think the most important way is to not expect our kids to be perfect. We need to teach them that it is totally okay to make mistakes. In fact, we often learn life's best lessons when we make mistakes. Sometimes a B+ is a real cause for celebration and not something that we need to buckle down and work harder.

Watch Video: Problems with perfectionism by Christine Carter, PhD, ...


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Christine Carter, PhD

Sociologist & Happiness Expert

A sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. Dr. Carter also writes an award-winning blog for Greater Good, which is syndicated on the Huffington Post and Carter has helped thousands of parents find more joy in their parenting while raising happy, successful and resilient kids. Known for her parenting and relationship advice, Carter draws on psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and uses her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures to demonstrate the do’s and don’ts in action.

After receiving her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, Dr. Carter worked in marketing management and school administration, going on to receive her PhD. in sociology from UC Berkeley. Dr. Carter has been quoted in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “TODAY” show, the “Rachael Ray Morning Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” and NPR.

Carter has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of events and professional groups. In 2010, she received an award from the Council on Contemporary Families for her outstanding science-based reporting on family issues. In 2011 she won Red Tricycle’s award for the “Most Awesome Parent Education,” and so far in 2012 she has been nominated for a Bammy Award and for an award from the American Sociological Association for public sociology.

Dr. Carter teaches parenting classes online throughout the year to a global audience on She lives with her family in Berkeley, CA.

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