Comparing Children – Should A Parent Compare Their Children To Others?

As soon as a child is born, every parent inadvertently start comparing their little one to other babies. As the child grows, everything from crawling to teething or to performance at school is compared. Which one did better? By comparing children they put immense pressure on themselves as well as on their child.

“Your child is very active, mine doesn’t do half the things yours does”. “Your child is so clever at maths, mine hates studying”. “Your son is so tall”. It can be awkward for a mother whose child is being compared to! How do you even deal with such unfair comparisons!

Every child is special

In my opinion, every child has something special in them. If one child is good at physical activities, other might be good at maths. If one toddler starts walking at 10 months another might start crawling at 6 months. If one child is a good eater other might be a very obedient child.

Read my post on Playpens For Toddlers

Does comparison actually help?

In my opinion , comparison only causes unhappiness to the parents. A parent can’t make their child behave or act like somebody else’s child. If they try to do, it is going to be disastrous – for the parents because they won’t be able to make that happen and for the child because he/she will face immense pressure from the parents to do something they are unable to do. When the child is not able to do what the parents expect him or her to do, the child will feel that he/she is not good at anything. This will cause very low self-confidence in the child .

Good qualities of the child are ignored

Parents who compare their child to the others, always focus on making their child do something they are not good at. In this process they fail to see the immense talents or skills the child has, what comes naturally to the child. In fact, the child will not even realise that they are good at anything. They will just think they are good for nothing .

Affects relationship with the child they are compared to

If you compare your child to another, say a friend,  then your child will start disliking or even start hating the other child. “What is it that she is doing that I am not doing?”. “Why am I always wrong and he is always right?” Comparison will create a lot of negativity in your child.

Impacts Parent child relationship

Because of the high or incorrect expectations , the child never ‘warms up’ to the parent with the fear that he/she might do something which might not please the parent!

So, what do you as a parent do ?

  • Appreciate/accept your child the way he/she is.
  • Find out what he/she is good at. Focus on it. For example, if they are good at piano and not at maths, support their piano skills by enrolling them for piano lessons.Help them with practicing piano etc. It doesn’t mean, that you ignore making them practice maths . In fact give them extra practice in maths as studying is equally important. But do not compare them to another child who is good at maths . Don’t keep reminding them that they are weak in maths.
  • Whenever they perform well in maths, praise them. This will increase their confidence and also encourage them to perform better.
  • Always, always focus on what your child can do, rather than what they can’t do!

Comparison always leads to trouble

There is no end to comparison. If you start comparing how many toys your child has as compared to his/her best friend, you will feel pressurised to buy more toys for your child. This will not only cause financial strain (depending how far you go ) but you might run the risk of your child being ungrateful and greedy. The most important thing your child will ever need are love and attention ! Everything else is secondary.

Never compare your children with each other

If you compare your child to their sibling, it will also start affecting the siblings relationship with each other. This might have a lifetime effect on your children. So for the sake of family unity, never compare your children. Each child is different. Each child is unique. Even if your parents compared you to your sibling in your childhood, don’t repeat the same mistake with your children. Do not repeat your parents’s mistakes.

Conclusion

Each child develops at his or her pace. All kinds of developments like crawling, walking happen within an age range. If you are concerned about any developmental issue, you should speak to medical professional rather than comparing your child with somebody else’s. Telling your child “why don’t you learn this from your brother or your friend”? can affect their confidence for the rest of their lives.

All parents (including me) tend to compare their children to others upto a certain extent, as long as it is done only as an observation. It shouldn’t go any further than that.

Do you compare your child or children? Or have you experienced someone comparing their child to yours? What do you feel about comparing children? Please share your experiences via comment box below!

Regards

16 Replies to “Comparing Children – Should A Parent Compare Their Children To Others?”

  1. As  a parent I know it’s not wise to compare  kids it’s not even wise to try  to do   so the best thing is to let your child be ,  he/she is surely special in something. Support what he/she is good at and that kid will  do wonders in life. Compare her with others and you have to blame  yourself in near future .It should be like this LET YOUR CHILD BE  THEMSELVES.

  2. Yes, I agree. Every child is special and unique in their own way. Parents can fall down this trap of comparing their child to others especially amongst the middle and upper classes (in my opinion).

    Word is power and if a child feels that your are undermining their abilities or skills, comparing them to others, psychologically they will feel some type of way about it. Therefore, I agree all adults should uplift their children(s) spirit and praise them more often. As well, focus on the positives – their special talents.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Choannah. By comparing children, parents put themselves under immense stress as well. They are always ” afraid” their child will not do certain things which other kids are doing. 

  3. This is a serious topic and issue that all the parents have to read and know that it is never a good idea to compare their children with other children. I have always been against comparing anyone and this article really elaborates on the topic and gives more reasons for why parents shouldn’t compare their children with others.

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us.

    1. You are welcome. Parenting is very big responsibility. Every parent including me needs someone’s guidance  from time to time. 

  4. Parents often compare their children with their peers out of deep concern and care, they all want the best for their kids , however having expectations of our kids based on what we see around us and forgetting that every individual is unique with his/her own special attribute is the genesis of the problem. Parents should lookout for the strength of every child and build on those characteristics instead of wishing and comparing them with others around them.

    Always love your post!!

    1. Thanks Zuchii. Being a parent is tricky. It is an honour as well as a huge responsibility. Parents are not perfect and sometimes they do make mistakes like comparing their children.  Hopefully my post will serve as a reminder to those who compare their children without realising the effect it will have on their children. 

  5. This is a good article and opens the door to a discussion regarding the pros and cons of comparing your children to other children, whether within the family (siblings) or with kids outside the home. Most certainly conventional wisdom is that it is not a good idea. I agree with that consensus…

    I am trying to think of some exceptions to that general rule, but truthfully I cannot think of any good case for the practice. It sets things up for anger, disappointment, frustration, depression, and more negative outcomes. In my own personal experience as a parent, I can say that I always tried to stay away from any comparing between my two daughters.’

    Each was so different in personality, in their competencies, in their interests, and even their friends. There was no good way to compare the two. What we did do was support both 100% as best possible, allow them to make mistakes (within reason, and ones that were not too serious), and let them grow and develop as they were driven to develop.

    I also spent a lot of time in grade and middle schools as part of my higher education and can say that some parents do not follow the advice of most and DO compare their kids to others. In fact, they have an unrealistic expectation for their kids and this generally caused all kinds of problems for the parents and the kids.

    We all want our kids to be the best they can be, and maybe a little bit better than the neighbor’s kids, but the reality is that just letting them be who they are works out better because that neighbor’s kid is nothing like your own! No matter how you cut it, it is not fair to anyone involved.

    It is good to read an article like this once in a while because we need to spend some time thinking about how you are interacting with your children. Most certainly comparing our kids to others is something we need to actively work on NOT doing, in my opinion.    

    1. Thank you for comment Dave. I like your way of thinking, each child has their own personality, own identity!

      Parents should focus on what their child can do and not what some other kid can do!  Parents who do that are not only jeopardising their relationship with their child but also ruining the potential of their child. 

      Parents shouldn’t judge what skill is good and what isn’t . 

  6. I would say that most parents are guilty of this. Sometimes we just worry for unnecessary reasons as children have their own way or pace on how they handle things. Our jobs as parents should be to guide our kids ,not put pressure on them. A lot of kids cannot handle such pressures and might end up breaking down or doing something they would normally not do.

    If we compare our kids to other kids on say something like not doing well in an exam while the other kid does better, our kids might result to cheating in exams just to want to live up to the expectations of the parents. I do believe we should not allow our children do just about anything they want to do but we should at least guide them and try and encourage them on the aspects of their lives they need to improve without comparing them to others or putting pressure on them.

    1. Thanks Jay for your comment. Yes, I agree all children have their own pace . Rushing or pressurising them into anything doesn’t give any results. If you push or pressurise them ,it might break their self confidence. Childhood experiences, good or bad, stay with a person for their whole life. So it better to give positive experiences to your children!

  7. I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. Just like you said, every child is unique and there should not be any comparing between them. I have an elder brother and in the past, my cousins always compared both of us and my dad was angry because of that. I have 2 kids and I would never make any comparisons between them. 

    1. Thanks for your comment Daniel. Nobody should compare siblings. My extended family also used to compare me with my sisters. But if parents compare then it will have a worse effect on the children. For children , parents are like God. Children rely on parents for everything emotional or physical . Whatever parents say , it is set in stone for children. Therefore parents’ responsibility is a greater responsibility  than any others ! 

  8. Hi Priya,

    Thanks for this wonderful and useful article. From my childhood, I have never liked comparison. I don’t know why some parents still continue to compare their children to other parents’ children. They forget that each child is unique on his or her own. 

    Children are often affected when parents begin such a negative attitude and spirit of comparison. A child who is often compared to other children and spoken of negatively as not doing well is often affected emotionally, psychologically and even mentally. They may begin to feel low and less confident in themselves, not even realizing they have some capabilities and talent. If care is not taken it could affect the whole life of such a child and will not be able to achieve anything because he or she feels that there is NOTHING they are good at doing.

    I think every parent should read this article. thanks a lot for sharing

    Stephen.

    1. Thanks for sharing your opinion Stephen. Focus should always be on the positives not on the negatives. This applies to parenthood as well. Being a parent is hard but it is never too late to correct your mistakes.  

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