Comparison is a common approach to ascertain the performance of your child. 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 Maths” 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
- 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 the confidence
- Encourage to cope with the weakness: Ask if your kids needs any help. Support him
- Praise the strengths: Whatever task 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
Parents and Peer Pressure
Save yourself and your kid from undue pressure for performance. It’s more in the parents than kids :- this trait of competing and comparing. Don’t force your kid to pursue skating classes if he doesn’t like, he may be more interested in squash. Let him follow his interests and then he is sure to excel with flying colors. Your self-esteem as parents should not be linked to your child’s performance in school or sports. Remember you are not your child; and realize it every time you push your child towards something that he does not want to do.
Now if your child complains that “you always take his side” or “you always support him, not me”, then do pay heed to his feelings. He’s not voicing his feelings out of blue, maybe your actions – verbal or non-verbal make this evident to him? Be more careful about this.
Remember, neither you can be a perfect mother nor your child can be a perfect son encompassing excellence in all fields of academics, sports or relation-wise. Everyone has to face different challenges, the situation differs from home to home. If you will think deeply, your two children will differ in their sets of abilities and skills. Just be proud of your children for what they are. Give them your love and strive to build a confident person out of your child.
As Theodore Roosevelt aptly put: Comparison is the thief of joy
So do not rob your little one from the joy of childhood. Give him space to grow!