Overachieving and Perfectionist Teens

You. How do you help your overachieving a perfectionist teenager find some balance over the
summer? Well, we're going to talk about that today on tips on teens. My name is Kent Tussant.
I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in helping kids, teens and families
to live happier lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501 c
three organization, child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills, California.
And every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions.
Let's answer today's. My overachieving and perfectionist I'm sorry? My overachieving and
perfectionist son just finished 10th grade. We started to worry about him this year, and we
want to hopefully reboot this summer and make some changes. We're glad he's so focused on academics,
but we're worried about his health this year. He really started to neglect some of his friendships,
and he opted not to play soccer because he said he needed the time

for schoolwork. Can you give us some ideas of how we can give him some healthy balance? Yes. Thank
you for your question. We see this a lot as therapists, these overachieving perfectionists
who can never do enough, and they'll grind themselves into the ground trying to be perfect.
Of course, no one is ever perfect, and having setbacks are just intolerable. And whenever they
have that setback, it feels like it's devastation and the world is over. And I think having balance
is a really important thing. So when I say balance, what does that mean? Obviously, if he's motivated
for academic success, fantastic. Keep going with that. But there needs to be balance. There
needs to be a social aspect to his life in some way. He doesn't have to be the life of the party.
He doesn't have to be homecoming king. He just has to have some meaningful social interaction.
Oftentimes that can be through extracurricular activities. Now, he's already given up soccer.
I don't know if he can get back into soccer.

But if it's not soccer, what else is it? Is it the academic decathlon team? Is it the speech and
debate team? It really doesn't matter what it is if it's something that's interesting to him
and he finds it fascinating because, again, if college is his goal, which sounds like it would
be his goal, he's going to need extracurriculars to get into those colleges because those are
being weighed more heavily. Generally speaking, obviously there are exceptions, but oftentimes
extracurriculars are a big factor, not just GPAs. And I think we need to really understand why
he's pulling away from his friends. Now, it could be an unhealthy thing that he's pulling away
and just jumping the books, and that's all he's doing. But it's also what if he's kind of outgrowing
these friends? What if his maturity level is rising, but his friends aren't? Let's say he's
really focused on doing well in school and his friends are just focused on getting high on the
weekends. Maybe he's in this transition phase, which

happens to a lot of teenagers at some point in high school. They feel distant from their friend
group. They don't feel like they connect to that friend group, and they're in between friend
groups. So I want to be talking to him about how he is finding that new friend group. And again,
it's not going to be easy. It's going to be messy, it's going to be imperfect, and that's okay.
I think it's important to talk to him about that and help them understand that. I think it's important.
Also, if you're really worried about his health, what about his health? Is it his sleep? Is it
his eating? Is it his lack of exercise? Those things can all be addressed as ways to take care
of the machine that is his body, that carries his brain around. Because if his body's not doing
well, his brain can't do well, and it's all connected. So physical health leads to emotional
and mental health. And I think it's important to have not just one, but many conversations about
that. Also, I think it's important to remind

him that even with setbacks, you accept him 100%, no matter what. Whether he gets into his A school
or his G school, whatever that is, he's still accepted and wonderful, and he's going to do great
because he has a capacity. You love him and accept him regardless of his successes and his failures.
It sounds to me, and obviously, I don't know, but it sounds to me this kid is only focused on his
next success, which is never good enough. And every failure he has is totally overblown. And
I think it's important that we start recognizing some balance here. And yes, failures happen,
and they don't feel good, but they're very necessary. Without failures, we don't learn, we
don't grow. No one goes out and bats a thousand. We have to swing and miss. We have to strike out.
We have to do a pot flying. Here's my big baseball analogy, right? We have to fail. And failure
is okay because if we learn how to fail, we learn how to get back up and go forward again. And my
concern is for this kid. He doesn't

know how to fail. He doesn't know how to deal with setbacks. He's trying to be so focused on this
one thing that he's trying to protect himself from any kind of failure or setback. That's not
realistic. He's going to hit setbacks no matter what he does. Anyways, it's a big topic. There's
a lot about this we don't know. So I'm just kind of hitting on the surface, but these are the conversations
I'd want to have with him. If you feel like your conversations with him aren't really hitting
the nail on the head aren't going far enough, you can always contact a therapist who specializes
in teenagers to help kind of speak teenager, so he can start understanding what's going with
him, help reprioritize what's important to him, to start going forward in the direction that's
the most healthy for him. That's our question for today. Again. My name is Kent Tussant with
Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen Counseling. If you have a question you like me to answer,
here every Wednesday at noon on Tips

on Teens, email us at tipsonteans@teentherapycenter.com or direct messages right here on
Facebook. And what else do I want to say? Probably something else, but I forgot what it was. Anyways,
have a great week. Oh, if you want to join our Facebook group, it's called Tips on Teens. Go ahead
and join us and you'll get these in your feed and you'll hear a lot more advice and stuff we're
doing. Thanks again, guys, and I'll see you next week. Bye.


Do you have an ambitious teenager who seems to be losing sight of balance in their life? As therapists, we frequently encounter overachieving perfectionists who are driven to excel. These individuals often set impossibly high standards for themselves and struggle with setbacks, feeling devastated whenever they encounter failure. Finding balance becomes crucial in such cases, where their pursuit of academic success needs to be complemented by meaningful social interactions.


While academic success is important, so is maintaining good health. Addressing concerns regarding sleep, nutrition, and exercise is crucial, as physical well-being greatly influences emotional and mental health. By emphasizing the importance of self-care and discussing strategies to support his overall well-being, you can help him understand the connection between a healthy body and a thriving mind

It’s a big topic, and dive in head first in this Tips on Teens:

“My overachieving and perfectionist son just finished 10th grade. We started to worry about him this year and we want to hopefully reboot this summer and make some changes. We’re glad he’s so focused on academics, but were worried about his health. This year he really started to neglect some of his friendships, and he opted not to play soccer because he said he needed the time for schoolwork.  Can you give us some ideas of how we can give him some healthy balance?”

Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!

Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE!  Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/

If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.