Have you ever wondered how amazing it is, that all humans have one nose, a pair of eyes, one mouth, a pair of ears on one head and yet we all look different. Our uniqueness as humans starts from our physical appearance down to our mental and psychological makeup. No two humans are the same. They may look-alike or act in similar ways but at overall scrutiny, distinctions are be made. In light of this, it is pertinent that we realize that our differences as individuals do not mar us but complement our existence as a society.
With this in mind, we can be able to tackle a persistent phenomenon in our homes and child upbringing: Child Comparison. Children are indeed gifts from God. They come with their peculiarities and uniqueness. Every child comes into this world with an innate wiring and this forms their perception and outlook to the world. However, every man is a product of nature and nurture. Hence, it follows that this innate perception to life can be either enhanced or distorted by nurture. One of such nurture that can distort a child’s nature is child comparison.
Child comparison in my opinion is comparing the personality of a child with external factors. A parent can make a self-conceived harmless statement as “Can’t you see your brother, he is always quiet. Why cannot you be like him?” What appears to the parent as a simple rebuke is actually an attack to the child’s esteem. What the parent has said in other words is because you are not as quiet as your brothers then you are not good enough. The adverse effect is that you begin to nip at the child’s esteem and confidence. Remember that kids between 0-19 are at their formative years. It follows that whatever nurture they receive go a long way to form the person they become. So when you include child comparison into your nurture curriculum either as a parent, teacher or guardian, this is your most likely result:
Confused Identity: Not all children are quiet, fast eaters, playful, fast learners, energetic etc. The list is endless. The point is as earlier stated, no two people are alike. So when you demoralize a child into becoming another person, what you have succeeded in doing is corrupting the true essence of the child. You could succeed in getting them to be who you want them to be but you’ll have deprived them from living out themselves to their fullest potentials.
Low self-esteem: Comparison simply says you are not good enough being you. If being oneself is not good enough then it is near impossible not to combat with low self-esteem. Why would you want your child to be anyone else but himself? Seeing as your child might not be able to duplicate the other person in him or herself you will keep leaving your child in a state of worthlessness.
Rebellion: Some kids respond to criticism differently. If they do not resort to withdrawal, the next and most likely option is rebellion. That is, they do not only remain who they perceive themselves to be but become the worst of themselves just to spite the parent. The message that is trying to pass is “this is me, and I’m not changing for anyone. Accept me or deal with it” Your choice.
Dissension and hatred: you would succeed as a parent in causing rivalry and a strained relationship among your kids if you keep comparing. Kids are young and since they cannot take out their anger on you, they will divert it to the ‘perfect kid’. Instead of getting results, you will end up adding to the problem.
The list is ongoing but the above are a salient few of the havoc your harmless comparison could be wreaking on your child or children. In the place of comparison, you can decide to:
Correct them in love and as people. Try not to bring the excellence of a third party into your rebuke. No one is perfect. There are things one is good at that the other isn’t good at and vice versa. So let them know they can act or do better, not act like another person to be better.
Teach them to be the best of themselves or try to help them discover their strengths and capitalize on it. As people, we have our strengths and weaknesses. So instead of judging them based on their weaknesses, help them magnify and build on their strengths.
Understand the peculiarities of your kids and work with them on the basis of this. You cannot adopt one method of nurturing for all your kids, do you know why? When you do this you are creating just one yardstick for measurement of excellence. If this is the case anyone who falls short becomes a failure. No child is a failure. Let them compete with their past and not with another person.
If you have been in the habit of comparing, don’t feel upset. Just work on understanding your kids and better educate yourself on how to go about it. Teach your children to be the best of them not the best of someone else. Remember that comparison is a distraction and even we as adults do not enjoy it. Do not be in a rat race and do not put your child in a rat race.