My teenage daughter has ADHD, and she is a perfectionist. She feels that she never does a good enough job, and holds everyone in her life to impossibly high standards. How can I help her?
Michele Novotni, Ph.D.
Many ADHDers miss things in conversations, make little mistakes, and feel out of control. Self-esteem problems develop when they fall short of social standards. Some become hypervigilant -- avoiding errors or missteps. This becomes a way to compensate for the glitches that ADHD can cause. It is also a way to attempt to maintain some control in a world that they find difficult to control.
Some ADDers develop an anxiety disorder due to their fear of missing something or maintaining some degree of control in their lives. Perfectionism applies to themselves, as well as others.
Two excellent books on perfectionism (although not ADHD-specific) are: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brene Brown, and Present Perfect: A Mindfulness Approach to Letting Go of Perfectionism and the Need for Control, by Pavel Somov.