Avoiding the Perfectionist Trap

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

This week in the office girls have had so much stress that they don’t even want to discuss school. Instead we talk about things like back to school supplies, their first day's (or first week) outfit and class schedule. This allows us to build to what is their class schedule this fall? Do they feel stressed or overwhelmed already? Do they have enough time for themselves built into this new schedule? This is where the white board comes out and we map out their week. Our goal is to identify and manage the stress that could pop up during their week. I tend to see a lot of girls who just jam-pack their days. “I have two free hours on Monday night, I can fit in this new activity...” I just hear - bring on the stress and overwhelm! Girls today receive this message that they need to have the top grades and test scores, multiple extracurricular activities and be superstar athletes in order to do well in life...get into a "good" school. In the meantime girls haven't learned to pull back when they're feeling stressed, which then turns into anxiety. So how can we teach our girls to take their stress level temperature on a regular basis?

I like to think of it like we have an internal gas tank and we need enough gas to get us through the day. What’s filling your daughters tank? Having enough sleep, exercise, nutritious food, time with friends, downtime, doing things that are important and that they enjoy. What’s draining it? Everyday stress may be School, sports, friends, work load. Then bigger stress could be a fight with a friend, a break up a big test, or a particularly challenging class.

Some girls want to do all the things but as teens their executive functioning is not developed enough to understand there aren’t enough hours in the day. She may need you to help her get organized enough to see it all laid out. Here are some tips for what you can do:

📓 At the beginning of the school year sit down with your daughter and her schedule. Write everything out onto a piece of paper: school, clubs, work, sports, family obligations, etc.

🍎 Take the time to help your daughter lay out her schedule each week.

📓 Prioritize what needs to fit in each day and what is only an option.

🍎 Use the beginning of the school year to carefully choose the clubs, number of hours at work and extra curricular a that your daughter signs up for.

📓 Keep the things that are going to help her manage stress in her schedule.

🍎 Build in enough time to really study and sleep.

📓 Have enough down time and time with your friends.

🍎 Fit in routines and activities you love.

Already feel like she has too much? Make a plan now about how you will cut back when the stress is too much to manage. Pay attention to the signs of overwhelming stress building to anxiety. Some of these signs include: not being as motivated to do things that they did before, expressing fear that they can’t do things as well as before and being tired or irritable. This will be the time to jump in and take a hard look at her schedule.