As humans, we have a natural tendency to see how we measure up to others. We tend to compare everything – job titles, compensation, personal accomplishments like who has the bigger car, the bigger house etc. But it is universally acknowledged that comparing is an unhealthy habit, and especially so when it involves children.
Parents having more than one child often compare their children with their siblings. Comparing children with their siblings can cause mental health problems. Most often, comparison leads to labelling, which can create competitive pressure, anxiety, underachievement and so on in children.
In an article published in www.sylviarimm.com, Dr Sylvia Rimm, an American psychologist specialising in parenting, child development and learning says, sometimes, a second or third child may feel inadequate in comparison to a first sibling and thus, search for different areas of expertise.
According to the Huffington Post, there are three reasons why we should not indulge in comparison: it can be extremely damaging to the sense of self-worth of a person; the information we compare against may not be accurate; and comparing does not accomplish any goals but results in unnecessary consumption of time.
Parents should remember that comparing siblings will increase sibling rivalry and cause a lifetime of harm. Therefore, we should try to desist from the habit of making comparisons and learn to appreciate the accomplishments of our children.
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Comparing one child to another increases sibling rivalry, by creating a win/lose relationship. It pits siblings against each other for a sense of self-worth. Yet, even the most well meaning parents find themselves comparing at one time or another.
When you are a parent of more than one child, it is only natural to make comparisons between them. However, it so important to remember that kids are unique and special no matter what their talents might be.
Many parents knowingly or unknowingly do the mistake of sibling comparison without thinking of the effects it could have on their children and many of us as kids have been victims of differential parental treatment.
A minor degree of comparison is fine because that's normal, human behaviour. "But if parents are constantly doing it - looking unfavourably either at other people's children, or their own children - then that's damaging for everyone," says McCormack.
According to results published in the Journal of Family Psychology, parents were advised to stop comparing siblings to one another before it caused a lifetime of harm.
You think comparison as a motivator, but of course it’s completely the opposite,” says Barbara Desmarais, a Vancouver-based parenting coach. “We just never, ever want to compare. It simply never works, and the message that's received by the child ...
Do you worry about your children fighting? One way parents can work to lessen sibling rivalry and jealousy is to focus on each child’s behavior without comparing him or her to a brother or sister.