Creative Child

Don’t Compare

by Sarah Lyons on May 17th, 2017

As a mother of six children, I have found myself comparing one child to another many times. Even though I know their physical, emotional, and intellectual development will progress at a rate that is unique to each child and each will have their own strengths and weaknesses, when you are in the middle of a two year old tantrum over a seemingly trivial problem, it is hard not to think “Your sister never did this.”

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Parents often battle the urge to compare one child to another. It is a natural reaction considering we use comparisons to make decisions involving nearly every other aspect of our lives. When dealing with two or more children we must do the exact opposite of this natural tendency. “This was hard for me when my son was younger. He had several developmental delays and I would struggle with comparing him to where his sister was at that age.” says Ashley Clark, Shawnee mother of two. “I knew it wasn’t healthy for any of us and I had to let it go.”

Comparing siblings can have negative effects because it can create jealousy, sibling rivalry, feelings of self doubt, and have negative effects on the parent-child relationship as a whole. We know each child is unique, with their own gifts, struggles, and personality, which all affect how they grow, learn, and develop, but how do we learn to appreciate these differences rather than compare them?

Identify their strengths

When the urge to compare your children arises, identify the strengths of each child. One may have an excellent sense of coordination and therefore may excel in physical development and later, in sports. Another child may have no interest in sports but have a knack for listening to others and perceiving how they are feeling. Compassion and caretaking may come natural to a child with these strengths. Elizabeth DeArmond, mother of four from Olathe, KS says “It helps to see how their differences help all of us as a whole. We balance each other out.”  While taking notes on strengths, acknowledge areas where each child may struggle and allow more patience and instruction in this area without putting the child down for their weaknesses. We are all different and have strengths and struggles, we just need to learn to embrace them for ourselves and our children. As your child grows, learn to keep your expectations in line with their abilities and interests.

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