We live in a world of striving too hard for perfection, and trying to obtain the unobtainable, whether it be riches, material possessions, or beauty. To look at any fashion magazine is to see this unrealistic ideal in action. This affects our children on a visceral level, and so we, as the people they look up to, need to do all we can to make them feel comfortable and confident in exactly who they are.
Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a law enforcement officer, or some other type of authority figure, little kids look up to you and admire you. Because of that, you have the rare opportunity to help these children in their search to figure out who they are. This comes with a lot of responsibility, but also a lot of pride and satisfaction.
Any adult who has had an overzealous parent watching a baseball game or a dance recital we were involved in knows how stressful it can be. Our kids need less stress, not more, and we can help them by supporting them no matter what they look like, or how they perform. Kids want to do well for us – they’ve already placed that stress on themselves. We, in turn, need to support them in doing the best job or performance that they can while fostering in them that nothing and no one will ever be perfect.
Allowing kids to embrace imperfection is setting them up for winning in life. If the expectation is not utter perfection and flawlessness, this frees up their mental energy to have fun, do a great job, and learn a lot in the process. And that is what being a kid should be about – not a focus that is constantly on winning, achieving, and being the best.
There is a fine line between teaching kids to do the best they can in every situation they’re in, and making them feel as if they have to be the best in order to have worth and value. Much of this depends upon their perception, as well, and the type of personality they have.
As authority figures, we can help them become aware of their imperfections, and teach them how to see those as strengths instead of weaknesses. By teaching them the power of positive thinking, we set them up for a lifetime of seeing the silver lining and becoming happy, confident, and resilient adults.
Here is a short video by Brene Brown who is a research professor at the University of Houston. She spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is also the author of five #1 New York Timesbestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead. Be sure to watch it to the end for more great insight into your relationship with your children.