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Comparison of a child is generally made with the intention of motivating the child to excel. But it produces a contradictory effect where the child feels low because it hurts the self- esteem. The spirit of competitiveness is good in a child but teaching them to be better than their counterparts can sometimes be counterproductive. It causes deep set emotional bruises which are difficult to heal. It results in aggression, antagonism, and resentment. All these qualities are detrimental to the gradual growth and progress of the students. This is the reason why parents need to be very careful.
Why Do Parents Compare Their Child to Others?
Every parent dreams to see the child accomplishing success in all the endeavours but little do they realise that this can never be achieved by comparing the child to many others. It is quite a prevalent practice for parents to make every possible effort to bolster the performance of the child. They feel that this will make the child enhance his learning and skills, but on the contrary, it mars the confidence level of the child.
What Parents Need to Understand Before Comparing Their Kids to Others
The sole reason why parents compare their child to others is to instigate the spirit of competition in their child. They feel that it is the right way to bring out the latent potential and capabilities in the child to excel over the others. The comparison is not the only driving force to enable the child to perform his best. They have to understand that each individual is unique and is blessed with different strengths. Their interest and talents bloom at a varied pace. If the parents constantly keep expressing their displeasure or unhappiness for their poor performance, it will break and not build their self- confidence. Some other points that parents need to understand are given below:
1. Each Child is Unique, and They Should be Thinking Individuals
Parents must spare some time to listen to their children. They must try to understand their thought process. As individual human beings, as soon as they learn to express their likes and dislikes, they should only be guided and not be influenced by their thoughts and opinion. Children should be allowed to think critically and take decisions on their own which is how they will develop mutual trust, respect, and love.
2. Children are Not Decorative Pieces
Children should not be treated as accessories by parents. They cannot be treated as an object to show off in social circles. By setting unrealistic goals, they tend to exploit their own children and bring disappointment for themselves and ruin the lives of their own kids. They should be treated with respect as independent individuals and need to be loved and understood.
3. Education is Not a Special Favour But a Right
Some parents think that they have done their child a favour by putting them in good and expensive schools. Acquiring education is a right of the child, and it is the responsibility of the parents to provide education to them. Parents should understand that the primary goal of the best education is to create responsible and self- reliant individuals and not qualify them for acquiring a job and earn money.
Negative Impacts of Child Comparison
Even when parents want to refrain from comparing their kids to others, they, unfortunately, end up doing it. Though it seems to be an inevitable human trait, parents need to restrain that impulse. Children do not respond well to negative criticism and comparison to others is even more debasing. The negative impact of comparison is as given below:
1. Increases Sibling Rivalry
If you as parent compare your child to the younger sibling, it will foster rivalry, and the child might then start teasing, fighting or hitting him and behave aggressively.
2. Starts Keeping Away
When a child is compared with his sibling, friend or cousins, he feels insecure and tries to maintain distance from you. It can also lead to behavioural or developmental problems later on as he matures.
3. It Suppresses Talents
When a child’s talent is not appreciated, and he is constantly compared to others, the child’s talent will not bloom and eventually lose the potential and talent both.
4. Leads to Carefree Attitude
If a child notices that others are appreciated more than him by his parents, then the child will feel ignored and then he will never try to please his parents.
5. Avoids Social Interactions
If your child receives constant ridicule and taunts from you, he will gradually start avoiding public interaction in your presence.
6. Diminishes Self–worth
The self-confidence of a child breaks when he is compared to other children. If the ‘good for nothing’ feeling creeps in, it will deteriorate the performance of the child even further.
7. Destroys Self Esteem
A child’s growth gets hampered when he starts believing that he is not capable enough to perform well. He will always think that he will never be able to match up the expectation of his parents.
8. Builds Stress
As a parent, you must not pressurise your child to perform and make him feel burdened. Think of solutions if there is anything bothering him by talking it out with him.
What are the Positive Comparison Approaches That Can Help Children?
Negative criticism is a detrimental factor for a child’s growth and development. Certain ways of positive comparison approach are given below:
1. Give Unconditional Love and Support
An appreciation in public will boost the morale of the child. The child should be spoken to respectfully and given a lot of love and support.
2. Set Realistic Expectations
Do not commit the mistake of setting unrealistic goals for your child. Always try to understand the inherent potential of your child and help him to excel in his field of interest.
3. Appreciate the Strengths
Whatever task your child does well should be appreciated generously. Liberal appreciation will help the child gain confidence to face the world.
4. Help Your Child to Cope With His Weakness
If you know about your child’s weak areas, you must support and help him so that he is able to overcome it. Though it is not easy, it can be achieved with unconditional support and motivation.
5. Do not Compare, Rather Set Benchmarks
If you set realistic benchmarks rather than criticising your child, he will improve his performance. At this stage building, confidence and self-worth are of utmost importance.
The trait of comparing and competing is more common among parents than children. The undue pressure of performance is most degrading for a child and produces a negative outcome. You must not rob the joy out of your child’s life and allow him the space to grow and prove his own merit. No one is perfect encompassing excellence in all the fields of performance is it sports or academics. Hence the only thing which helps is positive comparison approaches