When Your Child Compares Themselves To Others
Over the weekend there were a few moments where Munchkin was comparing herself to others. Can you guess what happened? It made her feel broken and worthless.
The quote by Theodore Roosevelt, "Comparison is the thief of joy" comes to mind. We all fall victim to this type of thinking from time to time. I know I am guilty too, but it is even more heartbreaking when our kids struggle. I consoled her. I explained to her that God doesn't want us all to be the same and that each of us is imperfectly perfect created by Him. He gives us our own talents and struggles for a reason. I told her that we would always love her, no matter what, and that I have faith that she can do anything she puts her mind to.
It is so hard to grow up, especially in an age where children are constantly bombarded with social media messages and being raised in an competitive learning environment that rewards the "winners" and labels the others as losers, misfits, or dumb.
Our society continues to give attention to those who are deemed better, faster, smarter, more attractive, or more daring; leaving our kids with the expectations that they need to achieve these things. While society never idolizes the quiet everyday heroes, intellectual minds, or creative individuals of the world. We cast off those who are different, hurting, or out of the norm; passively telling children that these qualities are undesirable.
What if we stopped idolizing the "winners"? What if we did away with grades and rankings completely? What if we began to accept everyone for who they are and help them where they need it, while letting their natural skills shine through?
I think it would amazing.
I understand that experiencing failure is important in the growth of a child. I also can appreciate that feelings of inadequacy can be launching pads for self improvement. But at what cost? Self improvement should be based on the personal desire of learning how to do something better, not because outside pressures to conform are causing the change.
What else can we do as parents to help our children through these situations and to help build self-confidence?
- Focus on your child's strengths - Simply working on activities they enjoy will present opportunities for improvement in areas of weakness.
- Catch your child "doing good." - All to often we nag and correct, pointing out our child's flaws and struggles, but forget to tell them what they are good at.
- Learn to praise the effort, not the result. - It takes time to build proficiency in any skill. The more we engage with that skill the better we will become. Praising the effort encourage your child to keep trying.
Let's not compare and let that comparison steal our joy of life. Instead, let's love for exactly the way our children are while guiding them to be the best versions of themselves. Tell me in the comments below how you help your child through caparisoning themselves with others or what you do help them build self-confidence.