Help! My Teen is a Perfectionist!

Hey, is your teenager working too hard to do homework? Well, let's talk about that today on tips
on teens. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize
in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy
Center and the nonprofit organization Child and Teen Counseling, both here in Woodland Hills,
California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live to answer your parenting questions.
And let's jump into today's. My daughter is literally losing sleep and obsessing over homework.
I don't know what to do about it. She has to turn in her assignments on Schoolology, and the deadline
is at midnight on Sundays. Even though she's finished the assignment, she stays up late making
revision after revision until it's time to turn it in. She's exhausted and overworked now.
I've been trying to convince her that it doesn't have to be perfect, that what she's turning
in the first time is good enough, but I'm

not getting through any ideas on how I can convince her. Thank you for your question. One of the
things I think is really important to acknowledge is the benefit is your daughter has access
to a very strong work ethic and a desire to do well, which is fantastic. Right now, it seemed like
it's out of balance. She's trying working so hard that she's exhausting herself, which is probably
making her not do as well. And the first thing I'd want to do was explore with your daughter is,
you know, you sit down the couch, put your arm around her shoulder, and explore with her what
it is about these assignments. What is she trying to accomplish? What is the need she's trying
to fill? Is she kind of valedictorian right now? And if she's at the top and if she falls down,
if she's not valedictorian, has she lost everything? Does she feel like her life is over? Which
we know as parents is not the case? Because with life experience, it really doesn't matter who
was valedictorian. Many of us don't even

remember who valedictorian was at our high school. Really, it won't make a big difference in
her life. If she wants to do well, she will do well. And I think it's important to focus on that,
because I imagine there's probably a lot of external noise about how she has to achieve. She
has to get to a good college, she wants to be successful, and so on and so forth. And a lot of that
there's a lot of noise that doesn't really add up to truth. It really doesn't matter what college
you go to, generally speaking. Just matters how you do college. Do you get in the right internships?
Do you make good connections there? Do you enjoy it? Do you make friends? Whether you go to Stanford
or MIT or our local CSUN, which is a really good school, by the way, it really makes no difference.
People can be wildly successful and happy not going to Princeton or Stanford or whatnot. But
there's this message that we're given to our kids, and even to parents, that, man, if you don't
get it to this level of college,

but no one can really define what that college is, then your kid's just never going to be successful.
And that's just not true. It really makes very little difference where you go to college. When
you're hiring someone, do you really want to hire them in their 30s based on what they did when
they were 15? No, I wouldn't want to base that my hiring on that. I want to base on what they're
doing now, what they've been doing lately. So I think it's important to help her recognize that
balance is important, because if she overworks herself and if she does get in that great college
and she continues on that path, she will burn out and she will drop out. And that's my concern.
I'd much rather I say this all the time. I'd much rather have your kid graduate high school with
a 2.0 GPA, have a really strong, close, connected relation with you and her environment than
graduate with a 4.5 and a 1600 Sat, but feel like she's never good enough. And that's what it feels
like right now, is your daughter

feels like she's never good enough. No matter what she does, it's just not good enough. And that's
a self esteem issue, and I want to work with her on helping develop that self esteem. A lot of that
is balance. A lot of this. How do you demonstrate balance? Are you creating an environment of
balance for your kids to model, to look up to? Are you guys having family time? Are you guys having
social time, creative time? Does she have creative outlets and extracurriculars to help her
feel balanced in the world and feel connected? Does she have downtime? It's really important.
Sleep is really important. So I'd really want to work with her to find that balance. If you feel
like she's not listening to you and it's just hitting a dead end, you may want to have her talk
to a therapist to go through this to help her find a more healthy balance for her to find success
at whatever she tries to do. Anyways, that's our question for today. Thank you so much. We love
your questions. If you have a question

you'd like me to answer, email us at tipson at teentherapycenter or you can direct message us
right here on Facebook. We love your questions. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy
Center and Child and Teen Counseling, and I'll see you guys next Wednesday at noon for tips on
teens. Bye.

Your Teen Doesn’t Know How to “Balance” Yet

If your teen is a perfectionist who pushes themselves too hard, the good news is that they have a good work ethic and desire to do well. The problem is, you’re teen probably isn’t too good at maintaining a healthy balance between work and well being. When that same teen perfectionist is pushing themselves to get into a “good” college, things can get way out of whack! 

For teens in high school there’s always going to be a lot of external noise about the importance of where a kid goes to college and how it relates to success in life. The problem is it’s just not true! People can be wildly successful and happy even if they don’t get into Princeton. It’s important to help give your kid some context and help them recognize that a happy life and where they go to college aren’t necessarily the same thing. Wouldn’t you rather your son or daughter graduate with a lower gpa and still have a strong connection with you and a happier life?

provide your child with Context!

If you’ve got a teen perfectionist, sit down with them and try to figure out what exactly he or she is trying to accomplish? Why is she working so hard? What’s the goal that’s driving this behavior? You need to model balance for your kids as well. Make family time, down time, time for creative outlets and prioritize sleep. All this is the topic in this week’s Tips on Teens video:

“My daughter is literally losing sleep and obsessing over homework, and I don’t know what to do about it. She has to turn in her assignments on Schoology and the deadline is at midnight on Sundays. Even though she’s finished the assignment, she stays up late making revision after revision until it’s time to turn it in. She’s exhausted and overworked now. I’ve been trying to convince her that it doesn’t have to be ‘perfect,’ that what she’s turning in the first time is good enough, but I’m not getting through. Any ideas how I can convince her?”

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: 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 –

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