It’s human nature to compare. Every decision we make throughout the day is based on a comparison. We often prioritize our daily activities by comparing which ones are more important. When we shop we compare value, cost and workmanship. There are many websites that encourage comparative shopping. We do it all day everyday, but should you compare your child?
The problem when you compare your child is that the comparison is not harmless. You’re not figuring out which new pair of pumps is better, you’re dealing with an emotional being. A being that has not had the life experience to understand and process their emotions like you have. And when your child is being compared, they are being judged. Judgement on a young mind can be damaging and become a part of their core personality as they mature.
When you compare your children with another, there is the winner and a loser. One child clearly understands that they do not measure up to your expectations. You may not see it, but this is damaging to your child’s self-esteem. Negative feelings stick. A small feeling of worthlessness can begin to form in childhood and that will follow them throughout life.
It is a huge barrier to overcome. Conversely, the child that gets all the positive praises can develop a large ego and become very unlikable. Thinking you are the best at everything in the world can make a very arrogant kid. No matter which side their on comparing your children has no positive value.
We all want the best for our children. But promoting one-upmanship will certainly take the joy out of childhood. We have overextended our children with a barrage of activities in the quest to make them the best of the best. Our chase to be better than the Jones’s has trickled down into our children.
We feel if our neighbor’s kid is taking karate and piano your kid needs to do the same just to keep up. This is simply another form of comparing your child that is telling them they need to do everything that their friends do. We all want our children to be successful in life, but pushing them to be someone that they are not is not the way to go.
How do you feel when you are compared to a coworker? We all don’t have the same skill set. As a parent the trick is to capitalize on your child’s strengths. Celebrate the fact that your child is an individual his blueprint is like no other. Your child is unique in every way and that individualism should be cherished and honored.
There isn’t anything wrong with a younger sibling wanting to like an older brother or sister. But being like an older brother or sister is different than being comparing to one. Make the role model a good one. As parents we should give the older sibling language to encourage and foster the younger child to build self-esteem and positive self-image.
“You can do it bro!” “It took me a long time to learn how to do this. It just takes practice”. Notice the language is encouragement and not idol praise for simply completing a task. This will give a child a personality boost instead of feeling defeated and motivate your child to continue on their own merits.
Self Fulling Prophecy
Being constantly compared to others and reminded that you are not as good as or falling short of expectations is a wound that may never heal. Believe me you can do a thousand things for your child wrapped in love and kisses, but those will soon be forgotten. Bad memories are more vividly remembered than happy ones.
If you constantly compare your child a feeling that they are not as good or less than can become their reality. As parents we play a very big role in forming our child’s reality. The big stand outs are negative words or punitive actions. I promise you a kid never forgets it. Plant the seed of “I love you just the way you are. You are perfect to me.” Erase any self-doubt with positive reinforcement and encouragement.
Celebrate the Differences
We are all different. If you compare your child to another it is damaging. It’s your job to find out what your kid excels in and create opportunities for them to grow. Pushing your child into activities that they do not like and are struggling with serves no positive purpose. A child that is creative and enjoys the arts may not have an aptitude for sports and visa versa. Listen to what your child is saying and follow his lead.
We are totally responsible for molding our child’s self-esteem. Be careful with words and actions. Embrace the positive. Create positive experiences and opportunities for your child to succeed. Let your child know that they don’t have to be the best to enjoy an activity. It is more important to have a happy well-rounded child then the child that thinks they are the best at everything.
Do you notice parents that compare their children against others? How do you feel about it and what do you notice?