Importance of not comparing children

24/09/2019 16:12 PM IST

The greatest gift that God gives to any parent is their children. The adage that every new born comes with a promise that God still has faith in mankind speaks for itself.

More often than not, parents are very excited about the birth of their child and this excitement continues even when the baby becomes a toddler. Parents feel their baby is perfect and deserve the attention of everyone.

The need to get acknowledgement of everyone for their children leads to parents comparing them with others.

With the advent of social media, this urge has grown manifold. We see parents obsessed with posting every day routines of their children on social media and this is where the comparing factor creeps in

How can my child be the best? How can be extraordinary? These questions lead to more disturbing aspects of comparison which in turn lead to unhealthy competition and severe parental pressure. It starts with simple comparisons of appearance to behaviour and slowly and steadily you compare your child's grades with others and then determine whether your kid's academic achievements are "normal", better or excellent. Then we resort to giving example of other children's accomplishment as a way to motivate our own child. For instance, "Look, Archana masi's son secured 90% in Math" or "Your neighborhood friend Pinky stood first in signing competition". "Learn something from other kids. Stop loitering in the neighborhood and join some classes". You certainly don't aim to hurt your child, but unknowingly these verbal statements do more harm than good. Comparing your child with others' is actually making you and your child stressed and is an useless activity, but the urge is hard to resist.

Why You Should Stop Comparing Your Child with Others?

Sometimes the sole motivation of comparing your child to others is to instigate competition in the child. So that this feeling can push the child to perform at par with his capabilities and excel. Competitiveness definitely is a driving force towards performance. But is this working for your child?

No two children are the same' they have different talents, interests, develop at different rates and have different strengths. Practically speaking, parents can either build or break the confidence and self-esteem of their child. Expressing unhappiness due to poor performance or bragging about his achievements; both are appropriate. Read below to know about the negative effects of comparison and the alternative approach:

Negative Effects of Comparing Your Child

Stress: The child feels burdened if he is constantly being compared. Your job is not to pressurize him to perform and in turn making him anxious and insomniac. Sit and talk to your child, if there is something bothering him which is affecting his performance. Devise solutions together

Lowers self-esteem: The kid starts believing that others are better than him and that he is incapable of performing well or living to the expectations of the parents. This feeling is very damaging for the personal and academic growth of the child

Lowers self-worth: Despite his efforts, if he still gets to hear that he needs to follow the other child to perform well, this breaks his confidence. The "good for nothing" starts to settle in. This may deteriorate his performance further

Shy away from social situations: If your kid is consistently ridiculed or taunted by comparison then he will start avoiding public interaction with you Comparison negative effects

Builds carefree attitude: If the child's talents or achievements are constantly ignored, then he may not even bother to please you anymore since you clearly favor the other child who has more "appropriate" achievements

Suppresses talents: Your kid spends more time in charcoal painting and you prefer him to go for badminton practice, the kid faces a dilemma. If the painting talent is unappreciated and he halfheartedly goes for playing badminton, he may not score very well. Eventually the painting talent won't have room to grow and will be lost

Distances from you: Clearly, if the kid is being held negatively up against his siblings, cousins, friends or neighbors. It becomes evident to him that something about him is unacceptable to you and you are unhappy with him. You become the source of hurt to him and he will try to maintain distance from you. This may make your kid feel insecure and lose trust in you. Which may lead to developmental or behavioral problems as your child matures

Fosters sibling rivalry: When you compare, rather praise the other child to your child, your child may secretly start loathing his own sibling. This may lead him to behave aggressively, pick fights, tease and even hit each other. You are also passing the message that the better performing child is favored and loved more. As a result, your kid may start belittling himself

Positive Comparison Approach To Help Your Child

Set benchmark instead of comparing: Appreciate the effort, even if he secures 2 marks more than the previous exam. This builds confidence

Encourage to cope with weakness: Ask if your kids need any help. Support him

Praise the strengths: Whatever tasks your child performs well, appreciate it

Don't set up unrealistic expectations: If your girl wants to become a writer, don't force her to take up engineering. She may be smart, intelligent but lacking aptitude and interest, which are detrimental for success in any field

Provide unconditional support and love: If your kid couldn't score well, do not make him feel that he has let you down or embarrassed you. Always support your child. Engage in a pep talk, encourage him to practice more and always appreciate his efforts in public

Remember that every child is unique; they have different levels of interests, different strengths and weaknesses

Ms. Shilpa
Teacher, BHIS Santacruz

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