How might you feel if someone were to say to you, “Your son can’t read yet? Mine was reading by the time he was five.” How do you think your child feels when he is compared with his sibling? I would guess similar to how you would feel. Upset? Frustrated? Full of self-doubt? These may be just a few of the many that come up.
Comparison assumes that one person is better than another because of who he appears to be, what he has, etc. It makes the assumption that I am better than you, or you are better than me. You can substitute the “I am” for “what I have” or “what I did” is better.
Why do we think that one child is better than another? Is it that they learn faster, act differently, or are taller? Yes everybody’s different; that’s what makes each of us a unique and amazing individual. But why is different better or worse? Is an orange better than an apple? Is an oak tree worse than a maple tree? You may prefer one over another, yet can you tell me why it is better or worse than the other?
When you compare your child with another child, it diminishes his self-esteem. Each child is an individual. The only person they can be compared to is themselves.
When we compare our children to others, they learn to compare themselves to others and become self judgmental. This pattern can follow them throughout life as a “guilty complex” leading them to believe, “No matter what I do, I am not good enough”. There is a saying, “To compare is to despair”.
Here are some of the dangers of comparison (click on the links to read some great articles).
Instead of comparing one child to another, try one of the following:
- Identify and describe a child’s particular behavior or personality
- Focus on the individual talents
- Trust in your self and in the child.
Appreciate and be grateful for individual uniqueness, it is the spice of life.