Making comparisons is part of human nature. We compare ourselves to other parents. We want to know how our child compares to other children her age.
Making comparisons is part of human nature. We compare ourselves to other parents. We want to know how our child compares to other children her age. We try to determine what’s normal and what isn’t: can our child throw the ball like her friend at daycare? Is she calmer or more rambunctious?
“The problem is that parents tend to compare themselves with the strengths of others without considering their own abilities or personality, or those of their child,” notes Geneviève Henry. “The result is that they undermine their self esteem, and become anxious and dissatisfied. Making these kinds of comparisons prevents us from appreciating what we have, what we are, and what our child is. It puts the breaks on happiness!”
“Your brother was able to tie his shoelaces at your age.” “Your cousin isn’t as noisy as you are.” Comparing children is especially unhealthy. Between brothers and sisters, it stirs up jealousy. And it always affects self-esteem. The child feels put down and not good enough. By being told repeatedly that she is less “this” or too “that,” the child may simply stop making any effort to improve since she doesn’t feel like she’s appreciated for what she is. It’s therefore advisable to try to avoid making comparisons between children altogether.
3 tips to stop making comparisons:
- Recognize your strengths. If you hate doing arts and crafts, why compare yourself to your sister-in-law, who spends all her weekends doing arts and crafts with her kids? You must surely have your own strengths and interests that you can pass on to your child.
- Remember that your child is unique. She has her own pace and personality. If your daughter still isn’t walking at 14 months, so what? If she’s in good health and everything else seems fine, she’ll take her first steps when she’s ready. And what if your son doesn’t like playing with blocks, even if you bought him his first set at two years old? He surely has other talents and interests.
- You are your only yardstick. How can you become a better parent? “Instead of always comparing yourself to others, it’s far more productive to only measure yourself against yourself and gear your improvements based on your own abilities,” recommends psychologist Nicolas Chevrier. “Setting and reaching realistic goals is validating. And it’s better than complaining because someone else is better than you at something. The same goes for your child: the important thing is to see how she progresses according to her own curve, not that of others.