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03Oct 13

Parenting no-nos: Comparing your child to others

A common mistake that first-time parents make is comparing their child to others, whether positively or negatively. Even seasoned parents do this! For some, it’s the worry that something is wrong because their child is learning to do new things later than other children. For others, it’s the excessive pride they feel for their child that turns into unhealthy competitiveness.

Whatever the reason, comparing your child to others will cause you and possibly your child unnecessary stress. A child’s development isn’t a competition!

Parenting no-no's: Comparing your child to others

Parenting no-nos: Comparing your child to others

Baby milestones

When it comes to walking, talking, and sleeping, children hit milestones at different times. For example, the general trend for babies is that they take their first steps sometime between nine and 12 months. But it’s not a problem if your child takes a bit longer. It’s perfectly normal for many children not to walk until they are 17 or 18 months old.

As for talking, it’s a well known fact that genius Albert Einstein did not start talking until he was 3 or 4 years old. And he was not the only one. Other late starters include renowned physicists Richard Feynman and Edward Teller and Nobel Prize-winning economist Gary Becker, to name but a few.

So if your friend’s children have already started walking and talking and yours hasn’t, don’t stress out and be patient. He or she will catch up! But if you are truly worried, seek advice from your paediatrician – don’t ask your friends or family.

Growing up

As your child gets older, he or she will develop different interests, talents and strengths. Your neighbour’s son may be brilliant at basketball while your son doesn’t play for any of the school’s sports teams. Avoid comparing the two. Holding him to someone else’s standard could be detrimental to your child’s self-esteem.

Rather than seeing what other children are good at, try to help your child to identify and nurture his or her interests and talents, which may be totally different to those of his or her friends or siblings. Let them know that you are proud of their achievements, however big or small.

However, remember not to compare your own successful child with others either. Comparison pits child against child, parent against child and parent against parent. If you are always telling your child how good he or she is because she has done something better than the other children, he or she is likely to make the same kind of competitive comparisons. Your son or daughter could start to treat others with contempt if he or she feels superior to them.

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