“Get to cousine kuma été. Li débrouillard. Toi to zis 1 paress! Kifer to pa kav vin parey kuma li?”
Translation: You are so lazy unlike your cousin who is hardworking. Why can’t you be like her?
Why you should not compare your kids to others?
I have been witnessing those situations almost every time the whole family gets together for lunch, dinner or birthdays. In some families, parents have the tendency to compare their children to others; be it in terms of their behaviors, academic performance or their character.
Now, as a parent you may think that showing more appreciation to the other kid, will make your own child adopt better attitudes. Unfortunately, this is isn’t the case. As a child, he doesn’t have the maturity to understand what you are trying to do. And this will lead to several psychological consequences which will forever haunt him.
Developing a sense of insecurity during early childhood leads to behavioral problems as the child matures during his teenage period. Rather than taking risks and embracing challenges, he will have the fear of rejection and that everyone is better than him.
As an adult, your child will not want to get out of his comfort zone. This may become a foundation for even more psychological problems as time goes by, which will prevent him from pushing himself to do more. He will end up growing up as a nervous adult, uncertain of how to react in stressful situations, and always trying to seek to please others to prove his worth.
I am the oldest in my cousin squad; my cousins’ ages range from 2 years old to 16 years old. My grand chachi (aunty) always brags about how her little Sheena is now helping in household chores. As she kept boasting, I observed the expressions on my other aunts’ faces.
“Ayo, Yash la ki enn paress sa!” said Aunty Mala about her son.
“Oh, Yash is such a slothful boy!”
“To pé tendé kuman Sheena aide so mama? Toi, to nek zwé dehor”
“See, how Sheena helps her mum at home? You just play outside with your friends!”
Everyone joined in to add their illogical expectation of how a ten-year old should behave. Meanwhile, poor little Yash’s face changed from happy-going to overly tense. I actually felt bad for him, as troublesome as he can be sometimes; which brings us to the first reason of why we should not compare our kids to others.
- It creates confusion in the child’s mind
The innocence and joy on children’s faces are incomparable. How many times have you told yourself that you wanted to be a kid again? Kids have no unnecessary stress like us – they live in the moment.
Why then bring stress and confusion to your child? When you tell him that “entel so garçon inn gagne A dans anglé et toi to amen zis C” (Sam’s son got an A-grade in English and you got a C-), it brings up stress in his body. Being a kid, he will not know exactly what he is feeling. At ten years old, who is aware what the word “stress” even means? Being so confused about his emotions will end up having weird consequences on him.
Instead of comparing him to others, calm down first. Make sure that your expectations for bringing an A were clearly stated right from the start. And check that you gave your child the required conditions for him to bring that A. If in spite of all this, he brought a C, sit with him and understand and help him constructively.
- It lowers self-esteem & causes self-doubt
Your child may think that he is not good enough and you do not love him unless he performs as you expect. With his level of confidence decreased, he may start doubting himself.
He may have other skills and talents that the other child does not have, but he will not dig deeper in those out of fear of disappointing you, and just let them fade. If he has a passion for painting, he will not tell you about it if you clearly favor other’s achievements in football.
This talent that never gets room to grow will get lost. He will end up choosing a career just to please you, instead of pursuing his passions.
Lacking self-esteem will lead to settle with the “just good enough”: this will affect his personal development, his relationships with others, and lead to a boring and unfulfilled adult life.
- It builds up jealousy and negativity towards the other kid
Auntie Mala, like many other parents, had good intentions. She was praising Sheena, so that Yash could have a role model.
But, what Auntie Mala did not realise was that she was unconsciously pitting Yash against Sheena. Later that day, Sheena ran to her mum in tears“Yash inn riss mo sévé mama” – (Yash hurt me).
Comparison builds up negative feelings towards the other kid and every time, you praise the other one, your child will get jealous. And, out of jealousy, he will act out.
This is the case between siblings too. As you favor your daughter’s calm behaviors over your son’s attitudes, tension will arise between them, leading to fights and even hate in the long run.
You will end up having two children with problems – one with a superiority complex, and one with an inferiority complex.
- A distance between you two may arise
“Kapav mama pas konten moi aster.”
“Maybe mum does not love me anymore.”
Praising another child may send a message to your own son or daughter, that you love them less. This may harm your parent-children relationship.
Children are vulnerable and they do not have the maturity yet to think deeply about why their parents are admiring the neighborhood kid. They may feel that you are not on their side and thus, distance themselves from you.
And, the next time you will ask your kid to help, you may hear something like this: “Al dire sa lot zenfant ki to bien konten la!” – (Go tell this to Gabrielle’s daughter who you love more!)
On top of that, they may refrain from appearing in public with you if they are constantly criticized by comparison.
parents, the sole aim while comparing your child is to set the
standards higher – but this is most often counterproductive.
Unknowingly, your words do more harm than good and the child will
suffer. Make sure your expectations from your child are realistic. If
you are upset with his behaviour, make a list of what is wrong. Then
sit down with him and communicate. Instead of adopting the
“comparison method”, interact with him. This will build up a
closer relationship with your child. Over time, this will help him
mature, and become the confident teenager that behaves well and
brings home those good grades that will make you a proud parent.