The Risks of Comparing Children

By July 31, 2020 No Comments

You probably think I will tell you to stop comparing your children, but I won’t.

I’m not sure you can.

I think our psychology is designed in such a way that we constantly compare.

You compare yourself all the time, sometimes kind of unfairly.

You are going to compare your kids to something whether it's an imagined standard, whether it's to their siblings and the other kids in the family or whether it's to what you think most kids are like.

Notice that you're doing it.

When you compare your kids to other kids it changes you, specifically your mood because there are processes going on in our mind all the time.
You can't turn them off. We are judging or evaluating ourselves, our kids, our circumstances, everything in our life.

When I see this happen to families I am coaching often I will call it to their attention.

I'll do the same thing for you because I worked on a juvenile murder unit. All of the kids on the unit were under 18 years old and got there because they had killed at least one other person.

Ask yourself now, “How's my kid doing?” What did you notice? When you compare your kids to those with extreme felonies, your kids are doing pretty well. (Unless your kid is one of those.)

The second risk of comparing is that kids to pick up on whatever their parents are doing. Whatever standards you are using when you compare, will tell your kids what is really important to you.

If you compare them to those who do well academically, they understand pretty quick that academic achievement is the important standard of comparison.

If that's not an area where they excel, that can start to cause feelings of inadequacy that they are not measuring up. In fact, that's one of the biggest pitfalls of comparing our kids to other kids.

It doesn't matter if the comparisons are negative or positive. You might say, “Oh, you know what? You're much better than other kids at this or that.”

BE CAREFUL that creates pressure for your kids. It can foster feelings of inadequacy, and a desperation to keep up the standard that has been set by the comparison.

How to minimize the comparisons?

Focus on individual strengths and interests and achievements of your kids without the comparison of the big brother or big sister.

Build them up as individuals, unique and separate and distinct from other people around them.

Encourage them to work to THEIR potential.

Communicating that to our children will help them to gain a sense of self-confidence that will carry them forward without the inadequacy of unfair comparisons.

Parenting can be a challenging thing. But you're not alone in this. We have resources available right now at Live On Purpose Central. You can be the parent you've always promised yourself that you would be. Let's put the support and the resources behind you to do that.

Dr. Paul