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Why you shouldn’t compare your child with others

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
11 February 2023   |   3:32 am
COMPARING your child with his/her sibling, his/her classmates or someone you seem to admire impacts negatively.

African American sister and brother quarreling. Preteen girl showing tongue to younger boy. Two little children lying in bed closeup portrait. Bad mood, negative emotion, upbringing and family concept

Comparing your child with his/her sibling, his/her classmates or someone you seem to admire impacts negatively. This subjects your child to damages that will generally affect his/her self-esteem and make him/her feel inadequate. Parents should understand that every child is unique and should be treated individually.

No one likes to be constantly compared to others. Low self-esteem issues usually have their root in childhood. So, don’t make your child feel that he/she is inferior to others. You don’t want him/her to feel conceited neither do you want him/her to feel worthless.

Each child is an individual and has his/her own talents and interests. Why does it matter if one child is musical and another isn’t? The non-musical child may be good at sports or may love reading. Let both develop their interests and abilities. They should not feel that they have to be more like a sibling or your friend’s child.

Direct comparisons can make children feel very resentful. When it’s made clear to them that they are not as good as a sibling at something, they not only feel bitter towards you but also towards the sibling. Hence, you shouldn’t foster antagonism between your children.

However, you may be surprised at how long the memories of comparisons can stay with a child. Long after you have forgotten saying ‘why can’t you be more like your brother?’ your child will remember being made to feel that he/she wasn’t good enough for you. The message soon sinks in even if you didn’t intend that he/she should feel that way. And it hangs around for a long time.

As a parent, you also risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Over time your child will absorb the message that he/she is not good enough and start to believe it. Why bother trying if he/she is not going to succeed? And so that’s precisely what happens. The child is effectively set up to fail.

Remember that childhood isn’t a race to the top; children develop at their own pace. Yet parents often worry because their child isn’t walking at the same age that their friend’s child is or has a much smaller vocabulary. There isn’t a set timetable for a child’s development, so don’t worry about when your child reaches his/her milestones. He/she will do things in his/her own good time.

It’s also wise not to compare your child too positively to others. You don’t want your child growing up thinking he/she is superior. Ensure you praise his/her good deeds, but you have to be wary of constantly telling him/her that he/she is much better than others. You will cause damage if you continuously do this.

Parenthood isn’t a competition, and you don’t have to show other parents how much better your child is or worry that other children are doing better than your own. Encourage your child to believe in him/herself, discover his abilities and be his own competition.

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