Adaptive perfectionism: Is often described as “excellence seeking”. These people want to develop their skills continually. Their standards are always rising, and they approach work with optimism, pleasure and a desire to improve. Although, this may seem like a “healthy” form of perfectionism, it is not without it’s problems.
Maladaptive perfectionism: Is often described as “failure avoiding”. These people report never feeling satisfied with what they achieve and, if something isn’t perfect, they dismiss it. They may experience fear of failure, anxiety, unhappiness, and other painful emotions.
It has been suggested that the latter has many more negative effects than excellence- seeking perfectionism, though research suggests that neither forms improved performance. It concluded that perfectionism isn’t a useful approach at all.
Adults are not alone in the experience of perfectionism. Children and adolescents who display perfectionist behaviour set unreasonably high standards for themselves. They strive to complete most, if not all, tasks perfectly with little tolerance for mistakes. As a result, these children become distressed when they believe they have not achieved their self-imposed high standard. Perfectionism in children can lead to chronic feelings of inadequacy, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.