Every child is different and unique. As parents, we should learn to celebrate our child’s individuality and encourage them to be the best they can be. In this article, you’ll find out why you should never compare your child with others.
Do you often compare your own child with other kids? Whether it’s in terms of grades, obedience, or physical abilities, you should definitely stop that habit because it can be detrimental to your child.
Never compare your child with others
As a mum of three, I know better than assume that my children all have the same likes, the same strengths and the same personalities. Every child is different and unique. But sometimes I also find myself comparing one’s ability to the other – this one feeds well, this one is more obedient, this one is smarter – you get the gist. I have to make a mental note to stop doing this.
Like me, other well-meaning parents make the mistake of comparing their children to others, in an effort to motivate them. But instead of this becoming good for your child, it can be the opposite. Children will actually feel different negative emotions if their parents constantly compare them with others.
Why do parents like to compare children?
Image source: iStock
Children may be wondering why their parents fall into the habit of making comparisons.
The truth is, the though of comparing one object to another seems natural and logical. By making comparisons or sizing one thing up next to another, we make the judgment of whether which one is better.
A study published in Live Science found interesting findings related to the habit of comparing oneself. When working together in a cooperative environment, a person perceives the performance of others as a reflection of his performance as well. The better his partner’s performance is, the more competent her feels.
Meanwhile, in a competitive setting, the opposite is true. An opponent who looked very talented would make one feel underperformed.
Which leads us back to the question: why do parents like to compare their children to others?
In addition to human nature, it may be that parents view their child’s achievement as a competition, and a measurement of their success.
This can be seen when parents deliberately compare their child’s achievements with other children.
“Oh, your classmate got a perfect score in the test. Why you get two mistakes, walao eh?”
Sound familiar? Parents hope that comparisons like that will make their children more enthusiastic about pursuing achievements. But instead of feeling motivated, most children actually feel the negative impact of this unwanted habit.
Negative impacts of comparing your child to others
Image source: iStock
Comparing your child to other not only refer to other people outside your family, but even to his own siblings.
Below are some of the detrimental effects of comparing your children to others.
When constantly compared to others, children feel burdened. Being pressured to do better can make a child restless, which results to difficulty in sleeping and other health problems.
It’s better for parents to try to talk to their children heart to hear. If you’re worried about her performance at school, resist the urge to mention another classmate and instead, ask her gently about what is causing her performance to drop. That way, you have a better understanding of your child’s issues and your child feels seen.
They get low self-esteem.
If she is always sized up to others, your child will begin to think that other children are always better than him. If he is unable to meet the expectations of his parents, he will start to feel inferior and have self-pity. He will start to feel like he will never be enough, or he’s not good enough. Having a low self-esteem affects the child’s growth and development.
They shut themselves out.
When a child is always ridiculed or teased for being less capable than others or being the subject of comparison too often, he will begin to feel that his environment is not a safe space for him to express himself. Hence, he will start to retreat and avoid interactions and crowds. This is why some children become very shy and does not have a lot of friends.
If all his achievements are always ignored, the child will start to feel like nothing he does is every worth it. As a result, he will be indifferent and unmotivated to achieve anything. When he hears his parents constantly praising others, the child will think that anything he does will be in vain. “Why bother?”
Image source: iStock
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” as they say. When a child loves to do one thing, this can be an indication that he is talented in that area. However, parents tend to go overboard when they see their child excelling at something. This can be true in the field of sports, arts and even academics.
Once the pressure from comparison comes in, the child will start to experience a dilemma – whether he is motivated to excel for his own pleasure or just to please his parents. So his talent and interest in something gets thwarted.
Parents, nothing sucks the joy out of doing something faster than being compared to other people.
They become overly competitive.
Always being compared or measured up against others gives a child the wrong impression about doing things. It sends out a message to our children that they should be winners all the time.
The result? It pushes them towards unrealistic perfection, they become sore losers unable to accept defeat and they lack empathy because they feel that they have to win against the other kid.
Parent-child relationship suffers.
If a child feels that his parents are not happy with what he can achieve, he will start to keep his distance. What’s worse, he gets the wrong idea that his parents do not love and accept him for who he is. This can have a major effect on the parent-child dynamics as the child will lose trust in his own parents.
Sibling rivalry surfaces at home.
When a parent praises another child in front of him,, he will begin to resent that child, even if it is her own sibling who gets the praise.
Comparing your children to each other gives them the wrong message that those who do better will get more love and attention. Instead of becoming a safe and cooperative environment, the home becomes a place of competition and mistrust.
Bullying can start at home. When a child feels weak and intimidated because he is always compared to another, he may feel that he is being bullied to do something he does not want to do. Moreover, the child may also feel the need to assert himself, so he turns to aggression and bullies other kids to feel good about himself.
The effects of comparing your child to others can be very detrimental. So parents, stop comparing your child to others!
‘What Should I Do When Other Parents Compare Their Kids With Mine?’
How To Defuse Sibling Rivalry And Feuds Between Your Kids
Parental Pressure – A Possible Cause of Perfectionism
Tips to avoid comparing your child to others
Every child is different and unique. As parents, it is our job to make sure our child feels safe, loved and appreciated by us regardless of his actions and achievements.
Do you find yourself falling into the trap of comparing your child to other kids? Here are some tips to kick that unwanted habit.
- Focus on your child’s development and remember that developmental milestones are just a guide, and children reach them at their own pace.
- Limit your time on social media. Scrolling in other people’s feeds leads to a toxic attitude of comparison. As the saying goes, the neighbour’s grass always look greener.
- Support your child to develop his own likes and interests. Praise him for his accomplishments and don’t force him to take up something or compete in something for your own measure of success.
- If his grades are lower than other children’s, resist the urge to make him feel that he has embarrassed you. Instead, compliment him for his effort and hard work in public to boost his confidence and support him to do better next time.
- Tell him this: “Nothing you do will ever make me love you less.”
Parents, never compare your child with others. Instead, be your child’s number one cheerleader and make him feel free to be whoever he wants to be.
This article was written by Fitriyani and translated with permission from theAsianparent Indonesia.
Anecdotes and updates by Camille Eusebio