Don’t Play The Comparison Game
There is a subtle playground competition that quietly hurts and damages our families. It is the game of comparison. It is painful and ruthless. But the kids on the playground or in the local park do not play it.
The parents play it. We all want our child to be the best, the cutest, the brightest, the strongest. That is a natural desire that is normal and healthy. But the danger to your family occurs when you bring those harsh comparisons home with you and use them to measure your child.
Every single person on earth is created with distinct differences. Yet our society loves to lump people types together and place labels on them, thus setting them up for failure or success.
It begins in the first newborn well check at the pediatrician’s office. The doctor measures, weighs and tests your baby’s responses to stimuli. He carefully scribbles his results down and then tells you what percentile your child fits in. How close or far he or she is from the “normal” child’s rate of development.
This is helpful, because you want to know if she is gaining weight at a healthy rate and if any changes are needed in the care of your baby. But it also begins that tiny bit of doubt about how your little boy or girl is going to measure up in school and in life.
We really cannot help it. You watch another little boy toss a ball and your eyes follow the high arc it makes and then see your son fumble awkwardly with the ball. You want him to succeed, to not only succeed but excel. You worry about his self-esteem and confidence.
The comparison game leaves out one very important fact; every child is different and every single person has at least one built in talent. Your job as the parent is to find that talent, that skill that may come easily to your child. And once it is found, you will want to encourage and validate her achievements continually and enthusiastically.
Does your little one like to bang pots and pans or draw and paint? Is he a great storyteller? Is she really good at chatting with strangers in the store? Do numbers and math problems seem easy and effortless?
These little sparks of individuality may be clues to your child’s gift or talent. It is better to over praise a child for something they do than to hold back on praise for fear of the child getting “big-headed” or cocky. Everyone needs to feel good about themselves in at least one area. Go ahead and pour on the “bravos” and high fives. Each one is building a happier child who will grow into a happier adult. And simply remove yourself from the playground game of competition. Your family will win!